#Pocalypso | Blowing Minor Things Out of Proportion

2020-04-02 – One of my dysfunctional coping strategies is catastrophizing. I hit a little snag and my mind follows the snagged thread, step by step, to the eventual unraveling of . . . well, everything.

My imagination is not much of a match for a real catastrophe, of course, as we are learning every day. But let me give you an example of one of my minor catastrophes to give you a flavor of how my mind works.

You are no doubt aware that technology has come to the rescue for people who want to get together but can’t due to the quarantine. You may have done this yourself. I’m referring to apps like Zoom or other web-meeting software. If you can’t get together in person, you can get together in cyberspace. You can talk. You can see each other. You can blow kisses.

A couple weeks ago, my guitar class was the first of my regular activities to go on Zoom. But it didn’t work on my laptop. That is to say: it didn’t work entirely. I could see and hear everyone, but my webcam wasn’t connecting with Zoom. I had to switch to my work computer to get through the lesson. But I didn’t want to rely on the work computer. I wanted it to work on my personal computer. A web search suggested that my brand of laptop had a known problem connecting to Zoom. But I couldn’t fix it.

Last week Kit’s and my Spanish lesson went on line. This time the app was Go-to-meeting. Again, I had a problem with the video. It was a different sort of problem, but it was a video problem.

This is where the catastrophizing began. The Go-to-meeting problem made me think that I had a hardware problem. This was not good. I bought the laptop in January and had a hardware problem from the getgo. The first laptop had to be replaced. It was a pain. And it also meant that I had to transfer files a second time. Then there was the problem in transferring Microsoft Office to the second laptop. The way they sell it prevents the seller from making the transfer. It was a nightmare.

And it took going into the store to make it happen. Not a good idea when we are social distancing. I was imagining that I would have to do all that—but that I would be prevented from doing so by that quarantine. And so, I would be stuck with the defective laptop. And worse, I wouldn’t be able to participate in all the Zoom ang Go-to-meeting meetings—losing my web-based social contact at a time when real world social contact is impossible.

I became anxious and depressed. See where this is going? A little computer problem and before you know it, I’m a basket case.

Of course, this is not the end of the story.

Overnight, I was ruminating about the Go-to-meeting problem. That was the one that convinced me I might have a hardware problem. Unlike Zoom, GTM did connect to my webcam, but it only displayed a dull-red color. I had put my finger near the webcam during the Spanish lesson and the dull-red dimmed. So there was something going on. I just wasn’t getting an image.

How could this be? I asked myself, without the webcam being broken. But another possibility suddenly came to me. Maybe, when I unpacked the laptop in January, there was some packing plastic that was left over the webcam lens. So, in the morning, I looked for it. Indeed there was something red there, but I needed a flashlight to see what it was. With the flashlight from my phone, I saw there was a tiny switch. I moved the switch and the red went away! It was a physical privacy screen.

I had scheduled a call for yesterday morning with the tech service people from the laptop manufacturer. When they called, I told them I had solved the Go-to-meeting problem. So they asked me to switch on Zoom. No more problem with Zoom either! I thanked the techie and he said it was nothing.

Too bad every catastrophe can’t be fixed so easily.

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