It's 6:48. You're sitting at your computer, as you often seem to be. The buzz of a Zoom call drones in your ears. People are saying words, as they often do, but this time the words seem to convey little if any meaning. A social tale is spun. People are surprised. Expressions of genuine candor are made. It's all so flat.
It's one of those days, where you can perceive with clarity the useless structures and incentives under the world and yet find them insufficiently beautiful to pretend otherwise.
The voices are pounding in your ears. You turn, but there's no escape. They're coming through earbuds, after all. They demand your response. There's a question. You [[need to respond->Need to respond]].The voices continue.
There's supposed to be a protocol for when someone needs to go. A wait for an opportune pause. A brief interjection, often fouled by network latency and the inability for engineers to care sufficiently about delay, because who would use it for real time audio anyway? Talk through the other person, proclaim your business and need to move to other endeavors.
On the other hand, the end call button is right there. Mechanically, nothing is stopping you. Socially might be another story. Another limitation that, in the moment, seems too arbitrary to make sense.
It would be so easy to [[press the button->Press the button]].
But there's a dull feeling that [[maybe you shouldn't->Don't press the button]].In a burst of effort, you click the button to leave.
All at once, the room is silent. Your monitor glows warm yellow. It's just you. It really always has been.
That's not the end, of course. You take the time to set your computer to do not disturb, because seeing responses right now would probably disturb the silence. Your ears ring from the messages you can't hear.
You wonder how long it'll take for them to notice.
Your work done, you close the computer. There's not much anymore besides a feeling of emptiness and exhaustion.
You open the door and [[walk outside->Walk outside]].It's really hard, but you turn your attention back to the conversation. Quietly, you play a rhythmic piece of music that seems to bring warmth in predictability.
The mind calms. The reticules line up again. The conversation seems to regain some warmth while you're gone.
You make a contribution. You start a mildly passioned rant about a new tool you've recently seen demonstrated by a friend. It's a pretty good tool.
Somehow, thankfully, the conversation goes on. Eventually it ends, but it ends naturally. Your friends sign off and send messages of warmth in the chat afterward.
It's time for the rest of the day.
✧It's dark out. The wind makes it uncomfortably cold.
You know there's a long cobbled path that leads to a bench in the grass. You're not sure if you still have the willpower to reach it. Or if the bench will provide any protection from the wind.
✧“Yeah, no I agree. I think that makes sense.”
There's a slight pause, and then the conversation resumes. You can feel the minor deflation in mood, but the conversation resumes nonetheless.
It's almost unfathomably difficult to [[stay on the call->Stay on the call]].