Your Brain on Zoom

One of our team members is old, like really old. They remember the Nancy Regan war on drugs adds from the 80's. We are not here to old shame them, but they said something really interesting about a recent study by Microsoft.

In 1987, there was an add that went like this:

A guy holds up an egg and says, "This is your brain,"
before motioning to a frying pan and adding, "This is drugs."
He then cracks open the egg, fries the contents, and says, "This is your brain on drugs."
Finally, he looks up at the camera and asks, "Any questions?"

Well, as it turns out you can substitute "drugs" in this add for "Video calls" and it would be scientifically correct.

  • "This is your brain,"
  • "This is video calls."
  • "This is your brain on video calls."
  • "Any questions?"

There is a write-up on the study here: (

The study shows that it is unnatural to have a conversation with several people all staring at you and to be able to view yourself at same time. This experience is very intense and causes harm to the participants.

The study also shows that we are not all equal in the eyes of others or ourselves. It has shown that women suffer this stress more acutely than men. Not to mention, that most people of color constantly battle with the inherent color bias of cameras towards people of lighter color of skin.

"Any Questions?" Yeah, We have a question. Why are we always using video calls?

When you add this all up, is begs the question, is a video call always better? We don't think so. For most business interactions, audio only is better. In fact the lack of a video option in openspace is a feature not a bug. When a video option is available there is a social pressure to turn the camera on. Even though there is no real benefit to doing a video call.

Do yourself and your team a favor, get openspace and stop causing unnecessary stress on your team.