The Rules for Having Lunch Over Zoom
I was Zoom-lunching before Zoom lunches were the only way we could lunch. These are my rules.
Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t be distantly social. It doesn’t mean that you can’t connect with people or that you can’t be closer than you were before this, even with people you’re not stuck in the same house with.
In fact, our mental health depends on staying in touch with other humans. We are gregarious animals. This is why I’ve been having at least one virtual meal a day with a friend, colleague, cousin, or random business contact. It’s a powerful way to attempt something normal at a time when nothing is normal.
And oddly, in these times when every emotion is heightened, the connection feels more personal than it would be if you were face to face in the Before Corona world.
By coincidence, I have a ton of experience with touch-free friendships. About five years ago, I started a tradition of Skype lunches. I ordered lunch, my friend or business associate ordered lunch, and we ate that lunch together while chatting over Skype. Since then, I’ve done hundreds of Skype lunches or variations on the theme (Zoom dinners, Google Hangout coffees, etc.).
I started the ritual because I work alone from my New York apartment, and I found it incredibly inefficient to schlep to Midtown or Brooklyn. An hour lunch cost me at least two hours in subway, walking, and elevator time.
When I’d pitch a Zoom lunch to friends, I’d sometimes get pushback. They’d be insulted: “I’m not important enough to meet in person?” Yes, there are drawbacks. You don’t get the restaurant ambiance or people watching. You can’t hug (which is so 2019) or inhale pheromones.
But virtual lunches also have tons of advantages. Over the years, I’ve saved an enormous amount of time. No waiting for the check. No one can eavesdrop when you say something moronic. And now, of course, there’s another not-so-small advantage: Your safety and that of everyone else in the world.
With my years of experience, I have assembled a handful of tips to make the best of virtual lunches.