Introducing the VFX Syndrome: Humanity’s New Disorder

An image representing Virtual Fatigue and eXhaustion(VFX )Syndrome

“I have back to back meetings, I just can’t find time to relax and take a stroll even in my house. I am just fed up” blurted Geeta, a top executive working for a prominent Global pharmaceutical company.

“Hey come on. Is it so tough to find time to even talk and greet between the meetings?” Amit, her concerned husband asks her curiously.

She then turns her laptop towards him and shows the day’s calendar. Amit was frozen!! 

She was right, her calendar was virtually fully blocked between 9.30 hrs to 6.30 hrs. The only so-called grace time was for about half an hour. To add to the nuisance was that as per the company policy, she had to turn on the video and make herself presentable before the camera throughout the day. 

That was not the end. To make things worse,  at the end of the working hours, both of them now had to get ready for a marathon virtual session with family for another hour. This was followed by another virtual session on Zoom with friends after dinner. 

The master entertainer was still waiting.                                                   

One of the missions of Netflix is to prompt users to chose them over the restful sleep


It was time for Netflix and other OTT platforms for them to watch and get entertained. Well, I’m sure you would agree that most of us find this story very similar to our quarantine lives. 

We often tend to interact and behave in our virtual worlds in a way similar to the real world. Things may appear to be more convenient and comforting (other than sitting in bedroom attire) but at the end of it, the chances of getting exhausted are much higher than the traditional modes of communication.

The lines between the real and virtual are being blurred with 24X7 connectivity

Here I enlist some of the reasons why the virtual world is more exhausting than we have ever known

1. The fear of missing out

This is the worst of the anxieties that most of us have during virtual discussions. The Reason? We are forced to listen than to hear and to visualise than watch every damn bit of information that comes up on the screen, either video or audio. 

Had it been the real world, we could have easily asked for clarifications. Any attempt to seek virtual clarifications are often (mis)construed as arrogance and ignorance.

To add to the trouble we are easily prone to annoying distractions from the co-habitants at home (Hopefully, they are not reading this sentence… Oh God, please save me!)

2. Our Evolutionary Dysfunctional Processing System 

The eyes consume ⅔ rd of energy for a reason. It is said that we process information much better in the real world since we tend to focus on non-verbal communication as well.

Have you ever noticed that even without interaction, as you just walk into a person there is an element of information exchange that happens unknowingly? This may be challenging in the video conferencing sessions as we are limited to viewing only their faces.

Personally, I tend to focus on my face more than others. It’s embarrassing to watch someone directly into their eyes. I am scared if they will hypnotise me! 

3. The consciousness bug keeps biting us…relentlessly 

We are more conscious of how we look and talk during a virtual video conferencing call as compared to the real world. Most of us also want a private space with a good background. This may be lacking in most of the houses.

Some of my friends have gone an extra mile in converting their room into a classy digital studio. I somehow feel this act of ostracising as a false sense of elation. The symptoms of social media addiction seem to be biting in the video conference calls as well. Guys, get well soon, please.

Okay, enough of sharing the reasons for exhaustion. Want to know how to address these? Read on to know more…

a. Follow singularity of purpose and make sure that you enter into a call with a stronger agenda as you would have in the traditional world.

b. Keeping a notepad/diary handy will always help. I have seen that most of us tend to capture notes on the laptop itself. It’s time that we revisit the habit of capturing information and our thoughts in a notepad. The additional benefit it can offer is that you may take off your eyes from the screen and avoid computer vision syndrome. But hey, you can also take a short nap while you switch between the screen and the page. Think over! I can help you with that.

c. Keep minimal tabs open on the screen. Do not try to access information the moment you are asked for one. You can always keep all the queries in your diary. Ensure that you take sufficient breaks and take time in between to do focussed research and getting back to the virtual form only once you are ready.

d. Avoid accessing social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp during and between the virtual video conferencing sessions. You may be tempted to do so, but at the end of it you lose out on both, which is the importance of a virtual video call as well as the excitement of that quirky post or forward sent to you from your friends/family group.

e. If possible, insist on an audio call or an email. This will avoid unnecessary sensory overload and exhaustion. 

At the end of it, I call this the Virtual Fatigue and eXhaustion (VFX) syndrome. (The actual VFX, which stands for visual effects Have you got one? If so l, then please follow the tips provided here. Well, they have worked for me and I am sure you would find them useful too and also come up with your own suggestions.

So before you accept and initiate the next virtual video call, do remember some of the tips shared with you.

The current crisis is meant for us to sit back, relax and think on the real priorities of life. Do not succumb to the digital and virtual world and get exhausted.

Take care! 

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