Why Zoom Is Terrible

为什么说Zoom很糟糕

纽约时报双语版-为什么说Zoom很糟糕

Tim Lahan

Last month, global downloads of the apps Zoom, Houseparty and Skype increased more than 100 percent as video conferencing and chats replaced the face-to-face encounters we are all so sorely missing. Their faces arranged in a grid reminiscent of the game show “Hollywood Squares,” people are attending virtual happy hours and birthday parties, holding virtual business meetings, learning in virtual classrooms and having virtual psychotherapy.

上个月,Zoom、Houseparty和Skype等应用程序的全球下载量增加了逾100%,视频会议和聊天取代了我们都非常想念的面对面交流。屏幕上人们的脸呈网格状排列,让人想起游戏节目《好莱坞广场》(Hollywood Squares),人们参加虚拟的欢乐时光和生日派对,举行虚拟的商务会议,在虚拟的教室里学习,进行虚拟的心理治疗。

But there are reasons to be wary of the technology, beyond the widely reported security and privacy concerns. Psychologists, computer scientists and neuroscientists say the distortions and delays inherent in video communication can end up making you feel isolated, anxious and disconnected (or more than you were already). You might be better off just talking on the phone.

但是,除了广泛报道的安全和隐私问题之外,还有对这项技术保持警惕的其他原因。心理学家、计算机科学家和神经学家表示,视频交流中固有的失真和延迟,最终可能会让你感到孤立、焦虑、与社会脱节(或者比你已经感觉到的严重)。可能还不如打电话好。

The problem is that the way the video images are digitally encoded and decoded, altered and adjusted, patched and synthesized introduces all kinds of artifacts: blocking, freezing, blurring, jerkiness and out-of-sync audio. These disruptions, some below our conscious awareness, confound perception and scramble subtle social cues. Our brains strain to fill in the gaps and make sense of the disorder, which makes us feel vaguely disturbed, uneasy and tired without quite knowing why.

这其中的问题是,视频图像的数字编码与解码、修改与调整、补丁与合成的方式导致了各种伪象:拦截、定格、模糊、抖动和音频不同步。这些干扰有些是我们意识不到的,它们扰乱了我们的感知,搅乱了微妙的社交线索。我们的大脑努力去填补空白,去理解这种混乱,这让我们隐隐感到心烦意乱、不安和疲倦,却不知道为什么。

Jeffrey Golde, an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, has been teaching his previously in-person leadership class via Zoom for about a month now and he said it’s been strangely wearing. “I’ve noticed, not only in my students, but also in myself, a tendency to flag,” he said. “It gets hard to concentrate on the grid and it’s hard to think in a robust way.”

哥伦比亚大学商学院(Columbia Business School)兼职教授杰弗里·戈尔德(Jeffrey Golde)通过Zoom教授他之前面对面授课的领导力课程,一个月下来,他说自己有种奇怪的倦怠感。“我注意到,不仅是学生,包括我自己也越来越疲乏,”他说。“在这种状态下很难集中精力,也很难以稳健的方式进行思考。”

This is consistent with research on interpreters at the United Nations and at European Union institutions, who reported similar feelings of burnout, fogginess and alienation when translating proceedings via video feed. Studies on video psychotherapy indicate that both therapists and their patients also often feel fatigued, disaffected and uncomfortable.

这与联合国和欧盟机构对口译员的调查一致,他们报告称,借助视频进行翻译的时候也出现了类似的倦怠、迷糊和疏离感。针对视频心理治疗的研究表明,心理治疗师和患者都经常感到疲劳、不满和不适。

Sheryl Brahnam, a professor in the department of information technology and cybersecurity at Missouri State University in Springfield, explains the phenomenon by comparing video conferencing to highly processed foods. “In-person communication resembles video conferencing about as much as a real blueberry muffin resembles a packaged blueberry muffin that contains not a single blueberry but artificial flavors, textures and preservatives,” she said. “You eat too many and you’re not going to feel very good.”

位于斯普林菲尔德的密苏里州立大学(Missouri State University)信息技术和网络安全系的教授谢丽尔·布拉南(Sheryl Brahnam)将视频会议与深加工食品比较,来解释这个现象。“面对面的交流和视频会议之间的区别,就像真正的蓝莓松饼与包装出售的蓝莓松饼,后者哪里有蓝莓,只有人工香料、人工的口感和防腐剂,”她说。“如果吃得太多,感觉就是会不舒服。”

To be sure, video calls are great for letting toddlers blow kisses to their grandparents, showing people what you’re cooking for dinner or maybe demonstrating how to make a face mask out of boxer briefs. But if you want to really communicate with someone in a meaningful way, video can be vexing.

当然,视频通话可以让蹒跚学步的孩子对着祖父母飞吻,向人们展示你正在做的晚餐,或者演示如何用平角内裤做口罩。但如果你真想用一种有意义的方式与人交流,视频可能会让你烦恼。

This is foremost because human beings are exquisitely sensitive to one another’s facial expressions. Authentic expressions of emotion are an intricate array of minute muscle contractions, particularly around the eyes and mouth, often subconsciously perceived, and essential to our understanding of one another. But those telling twitches all but disappear on pixelated video or, worse, are frozen, smoothed over or delayed to preserve bandwidth.

这主要是因为,人类对彼此的面部表情极为敏感。真实的情感表达是一系列错综复杂的微小肌肉收缩,尤其是在眼睛和嘴巴周围,它们通常是在下意识中被感知到的,对我们理解彼此至关重要。但在像素化的视频中,为了不占带宽,这些有意义的小小颤动几乎完全消失了,或者更糟,被定格、抹平或是延迟了。

Not only does this mess with our perception, but it also plays havoc with our ability to mirror. Without realizing it, all of us engage in facial mimicry whenever we encounter another person. It’s a constant, almost synchronous, interplay. To recognize emotion, we have to actually embody it, which makes mirroring essential to empathy and connection. When we can’t do it seamlessly, as happens during a video chat, we feel unsettled because it’s hard to read people’s reactions and, thus, predict what they will do.

这不仅会扰乱我们的感知,还会破坏我们的镜像能力。在不知不觉中,当我们遇到另一个人时,我们都会进行面部模仿。这是一种持续的、近乎同步的相互作用。为了识别情感,我们必须将它实际地具体化,这使得镜像对于保持共情和联系至关重要。如果无法完美地做到这一点,我们就会感到不安,因为难以了解人们的反应,预测对方的行为,在视频聊天时就是这样。

“Our brains are prediction generators, and when there are delays or the facial expressions are frozen or out of sync, as happens on Zoom and Skype, we perceive it as a prediction error that needs to be fixed,” said Paula Niedenthal, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who specializes in affective response. “Whether subconscious or conscious, we’re having to do more work because aspects of our predictions are not being confirmed and that can get exhausting.”

“我们的大脑会生成预测,如果像使用Zoom和Skype时那样,出现画面延迟或面部表情定格及不同步,我们就会认为这是一个预测错误,需要修正,”美国威斯康星大学麦迪逊分校(University of Wisconsin at Madison)专门研究情感反应的心理学教授哦波拉·尼丹瑟(Paula Niedenthal)说。“这样,无论是潜意识还是有意识,大脑都必须做更多的工作——因为预测没有得到证实,这可能会让人筋疲力尽。”

Video chats have also been shown to inhibit trust because we can’t look one another in the eye. Depending on the camera angle, people may appear to be looking up or down or to the side. Viewers may then perceive them as uninterested, shifty, haughty, servile or guilty. For this reason, law scholars and criminal justice activists have questioned the fairness of remote depositions, hearings and trials.

视频聊天还会抑制信任,因为我们无法直视对方的眼睛。根据拍摄角度的不同,人们可能会显得是在向上看、向下看、或是向侧面看。观者可能会因此认为对方不感兴趣、狡诈、傲慢、逢迎或是负疚。出于这个原因,法律学者和刑事司法活动人士对远程取证、听证和审判的公正性提出了质疑。

But as anyone who has been on a video call knows, people tend to look more at themselves than at the camera or even at others on the call. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t super aware of my appearance on video chats,” said Dave Nitkiewicz, a recently furloughed employee of Experience Grand Rapids, the convention and visitors’ bureau in Grand Rapids, Mich. “I have the skin of Casper the Ghost right now — it’s, like, fluorescent — so I’m always concerned with framing and lighting.”

但是任何参加过视频通话的人都知道,人们更倾向于看自己,而不是看镜头,甚至也不会看通话中的其他人。“如果我说我没有特别注意自己在视频聊天中的表现,那就是在撒谎,”密歇根州大急流城的会议和旅游主管部门大急流城体验局(Experience Grand Rapids)最近遭无薪休假的员工戴夫·尼基维茨(Dave Nitkiewicz)说。“我现在的皮肤就像鬼马小精灵——简直有荧光效果——所以我总是会留意取景和灯光。”

Craving company while confined at home, Mr. Nitkiewicz frequently arranges Zoom meet-ups with family and friends and he even went on a Zoom date. And yet he doesn’t find these interactions terribly satisfying.

居家期间,尼基维茨渴望有人陪伴,他经常通过Zoom与家人朋友见面,甚至还在Zoom上约会。然而,他并不觉得这样的互动有多么令人满意。

“On video chat there’s literally a glowing box around your face when you’re talking, so you feel like every eyeball is on you, like a very intimidating job interview,” Mr. Nitkiewicz said. “The conversation kind of defaults to trivial drivel because people don’t want to take a risk.” And the delay in people’s feedback makes him feel that it wouldn’t be rewarding to share a good story anyway.

“在视频聊天中,说话时脸周围会有一个发光的框,所以你感觉所有人的眼睛都在盯着你,就像一场非常让人害怕的求职面试,”尼基维茨说。“因为人们不愿冒险,所以这种对话通常都默认为讲无聊的废话。”而且,对信息反馈的延迟会让他觉得,不管怎样,分享一个好故事都不会得到什么回报。

He doesn’t feel the same reserve when he talks on the phone, which he does for two or three hours every other Sunday with his cousin in Los Angeles. “We have for years and it’s never occurred to us to video chat,” said Mr. Nitkiewicz. “Our comfort place is still on the phone.”

每隔一个礼拜天,他都会跟在洛杉矶的表弟打电话聊两三个小时,这种时候,他就显得全无保留。“我们打电话已经有很多年了,但是从没想过视频聊天,”尼基维茨说。“我们还是觉得打电话最舒服。”

This makes sense given that experts say no facial cues are better than faulty ones. The absence of visual input might even heighten people’s sensitivity to what’s being said. It could be why Verizon and AT&T have reported average daily increases of as much as 78 percent in voice-only calls since the start of the pandemic, as well as an increase in the length of these calls.

这是有道理的,专家说,看不到面部表情比看到有缺陷的面部表情更好。视觉输入的缺失甚至可能会提高人们对所说内容的敏感度。可能正是因为如此,Verison和AT&T报告说,自从这次疫情开始以来,它们的纯语音电话平均日增幅高达78%,而且通话时长也在增加。

“You can have a sense of hyper-presence on the telephone because of that coiled relationship where it feels like my mouth is right next to your ear, and vice versa,” said Dr. Brahnam during a telephone interview. Provided you have a good connection, she said, you end up hearing more: slight tonal shifts, brief hesitations and the rhythm of someone’s breathing. When it comes to developing intimacy remotely, sometimes it’s better to be heard and not seen.

“在电话里,你会有一种高度在场的感觉,因为通过电话线相连时,会感觉我的嘴就在你的耳边,反之亦然,”布拉南博士在接受电话采访时说。她说,如果你和对方关系很好,最后还可以听到更多内容:轻微的音调变化、短暂的犹豫和对方呼吸的节奏。涉及远程亲密关系时,有时最好是被听到而不是被看到。