Am I unmuted? Can you hear me?

Thanks Carl, for your service and welcome to all the newcomers.

My name’s B., James B., and I know we’re not supposed to cross-talk, but I have to say a few things about Zoom. You’ve had your three minutes, Stephanie H.

Meeting after meeting I’ve had to listen to the old-timers—that means you, Jim D., Dale K.—whining that Zoom recovery isn’t real recovery, it’s Hollywood Squares, it’s a video game, there’s no holding hands, there’s no hugging afterwards, it dumbs down the program.

Bollocks.

Zoom is plenty real for me. Video conferencing was the only tool available to me and I’m damned grateful it was there when I needed it.

My government job kept me on the road most of the time. It was just one five-star hotel, one casino royale, one sleek underground lair after another. Then, lockdown. House arrest. For me, having to stay home 24/7 was like being strapped to a table with a laser inching towards my junk.

I had always enjoyed an artisanal cocktail or two to numb the pain from my job, which involves a fair amount of extreme skiing, scuba combat, motorcycle chases, fistfights with giant bodyguards, and wrestling the occasional shark. But now, isolated and idle, alcohol became my only sidekick and I didn’t care if it was shaken or stirred as long as it was in my mouth.

As the weeks dragged on, I gave up working out, who was I chasing, anyway– Scaramanga? I gave up caring about how I dressed. Bespoke suits, hand-cobbled brogues, for who, exactly? My old Smiths t-shirt is good enough for WFH.

Pretty soon, I was spending all day driving the Astin Martin DB5 in loops around the house, broken Tanqueray bottles all over the weapons panel. Pissed to the gills, I spent all night playing video baccarat. Banco. Pass the shoe. Die another day.

Then one day a friend parachuted in, cleaned me up, and got me on Zoom. Thank you, Felix! It was exactly what I needed.

First, unlike some of us—Debbie C.—I'm comfortable with new tech. I've always been what you’d call an early adapter. I’ve got a guy at the office who hooks me up with gear you wouldn’t believe.

And yes, Dinesh R., some people turn their cameras off during the meeting. What part of Anonymous seems to escape you? If people want to eat, or visit the crapper during shares, that’s nobody else’s thunderball.

It’s not like people are hiding because they’re stealing the space shuttle or planning to seed the Earth’s rainclouds with mind-controlling nanobots.

One minute left? Thank you.

And okay—Dawn M.—maybe you don’t get the same one-on-one intimacy on Zoom that you get from an in-person meeting. Noted. But 95 percent of my one-on-one interactions go very, very badly. Call it duty, call it thrill-seeking, but every time I have an in-person meeting, someone close to me ends up strapped to a missile.

Colleagues, enemies, women. They come and go with each new “episode.” Only alcohol remains. People like me don’t have peers. I will never have a “home group.”

But I do have Zoom, which gives me the fellowship of people from all over the world without implicating them in a vast geopolitical criminal enterprise. If that makes me a number, I’m used to that.

Let someone else “save the world,” preferably a charismatic British woman of color.

For now, I’m grateful I’ve got Zoom and can get sober from a safe distance. I can live with a little buffering.

Never forget: this disease doesn't expect me to talk. It expects me to die.


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