Who knew attending events virtually was just as tiring as in person events.
When you live with a chronic illness pacing is not a new concept. We have to continually make decisions about what we events we are going to attend, what we will miss and also what events are worth several days recovery and the possibility of missing things.
I have never been very good at pacing but I like to think I have been much better than I used to be. I no longer try and fit everything in at once when I am well but accept that I need to make choices and actually manage to attend/ do more events than I did before. I was always really scared that by not doing things people would think I was weak and not invite me to other events because I said no. In the end I would crash and burn often ending up with days in hospital which would make recovery even longer and then miss even more. Its a hard one to get your head round. Also when you live with an unpredictable condition you do not always know when your next good day will be or how long your good streak is going to last.
I have always applied this to face to face and in person events but not for virtual events. However this last week I have realised that virtual events are just as tiring as in person ones are. Never did I anticipate how exhausted both physically and mentally I would be after sitting in front of a screen for days on end.
It is not the physical exertion of sitting but the mental exhaustion of taking everything in and trying to convert the language into one that you readily understand. I always think when I am abroad it is hard work to translate and can feel quite exhausting if you are doing it all the time. I have not been abroad but the language used in academic conferences can often sound like a forgone language as so many words and sentences need to be translated to be patient friendly. This is what makes them tiring. I find I have so much extra work to do after I have listened to a talk as I need to look so much up to really understand what is being said.
In person conferences are so different. I never appreciated quite how much I rely on other people at the conference to explain things to me. There is someone on hand pretty much all the time to ask a quick question to so I can understand the main concepts of whatever talk is being given. I guess I have taken this for granted which I had not appreciated until now.
I do not think virtual conferences are going to go away anytime soon so for the next one I will need to remember the mental toll they take.