Growing up, I knew my father to be a loving, caring man. My parents have always had a healthy marriage – or so I thought. Everything I once held to be true fell apart when I moved back to my childhood home during the pandemic and learned something I never wanted to know.
My father had a double life – and an entire second family on Zoom.
It started inconspicuously; Dad would go on a “work Zoom” every Wednesday at 6 pm, which was a strange time for a business call, but my mother was too innocent to ever think anything of it. But after a few weeks, I’d keep hearing the sounds of young children coming from the office saying, “I love you, Daddy” and “We miss you!”
That’s when I realized a hard truth: My father had a wife and two small children he was raising entirely via Zoom. How could he do this to us? And why would he do it on Zoom?
After snooping on him some more, I realized he would sneak downstairs to have a “Zoom date” with his Zoom wife late at night, sometimes sneaking out for a few minutes in the afternoon to play Zoom catch with his so-called “son”. Why didn’t he ever play catch with me growing up? And how did he produce this entire family via Zoom?
I had so many questions: Did they even know about us? Had they ever met in person, or was this just a convenient relationship because nobody wanted to deal with the commute? While I could understand the latter, I had to confront him about the former – why was my amazing father living a lie?
One night, I managed to open his laptop and click into a Zoom meeting room conspicuously called “Family #2”. I saw a young girl who looked a little like me, but her image was touched up and she had the body of a potato. She waved. And I thought, “Maybe my father is an asshole, but it’s not this girl’s fault.”
Since then, my mother has filed for divorce and my father is still with his Zoom family. They are still unwilling to meet him in person (they really don’t have time for the commute) but now they know what their so-called “father” has been hiding in this giant suburban home he’s been living in all this time.
Sometimes it just takes a global pandemic, and a versatile video conferencing platform, to reveal the dark truths that were hiding underneath the surface all along.