With the Covid-19 vaccine on the horizon, many are beginning to fantasize about life after widespread vaccination, but for Philadelphia resident Samantha Palmer, it’s not without its fearsome unknowns.
“I just don’t think I’m ready to go back to normal,” Palmer says, “specifically for a life where I can’t control the lighting and angle at which people view me. This is really all I have.”
While the switch from IRL to Zoom was in many ways isolating and trying, it also granted the ability for users to interact with friends, family, and coworkers alike through a wholly curated, 2D mise-en-scène of self-representation.
“I really got used to that part of it,” says Palmer. “Picking the part of my apartment to Zoom from, setting up a mix of natural and artificial light, raising and lowering my laptop to find my angle: these have all become essential to how I exist in the world.”
But those days are numbered, and Palmer is well aware of it.
“It really hit me when I ran into an old friend at the grocery store the other day,” Palmer says. “I mean, at least half my face was covered with a mask, but it was still so jarring for someone I know to be suddenly perceiving my whole form in all its chaotic reality. Are we really ready to return to that?”
“I was moving my head around trying to find my angles when I realized I couldn’t even see myself,” Palmer adds. “Only they could see me and I them — it was scary.”
However, Palmer is quick to add that her feelings on this matter are just one piece of the equation in terms of what this means for the nation and the world.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the vaccine is coming,” Palmer says. “Like, I don’t want for more people to die.”
“But at the same time,” Palmer adds, “we’ve been having these conversations about how things can’t just go ‘back to normal’ after all this, and I think it’s really important that those conversations include that I’m not ready to be seen raw by anyone, but especially my short friends who view me from below.”
Now there’s something we can all agree with!