Friday, June 18, 2021

 Webinars and I

The noxious advent of COVID-19 virus put an end to physical meetings exactly a year back. Be it weddings, religious gatherings, visit to temples, churches, mosques, friendly week end meets, professional meetings, seminars, CMEs, all came to a full stop, thanks to this tiny life form of life with some 38 genes.

Most of you may nor know that I am part of a club of 15 doctors which meets once a month and we have been meeting for the past 35 odd years and naturally have become close friends. We tried holding virtual meet on Zoom platform which sort of ended in disaster. It was much like a marriage where in the bride and the groom marry and carry on in a virtual platform. This may be tolerable for most of you, who are computer savvy, but to us oldies, it was a real pain in the neck experience. I divide our group into two. One old and the other older. Don’t be curious, I won’t reveal the ages of these two groups. Those of you who know my age can make a reasonable guess as to the age group of the rest of the members.

In the first attempt, I was happy that all were on time. Some faces were visible and some voices were heard. Often the voice belonged to the children or grandchildren who were trying to coach the older and also some old. The cacophony of noise and the blurred images did not contribute to any learning. Adding insult to injury most did not know how to unmute and this ended up many voices at the same time. Amidst the confusion I could make out most of them were trying to share their experience in handling the COVID-19 situation.

The second meeting a month later was not much of an improvement and we agreed to give this up and continued our interaction in our What’s app group.

I get called to participate occasionally as a speaker and often as an audience in the various webinars who seem to have mushroomed since the COVID-19 19 hitting us. I have just enough knowledge in managing these and I am thankful to my young doctor friends who have taught me this know how. Do I enjoy these webinars? The answer is no, I don’t both as a speaker and as a listener. The reasons are many. The most important one is that I miss the physical interaction. When we attend a professional physical meeting, it is not just the topic that we discuss, it is much more, I probably will ask my friend’s health or how his daughter doing or discuss a problem unrelated to the topic, on the sidelines of the meeting. This I cannot do in webinars. The aura of personal interaction whether in a webinar or for that matter in the now necessarily popular tele consults has gone missing and this takes away the very essence of learning and even patient management. Recently I posted a Ted talk given by Dr Abraham Varghese as to why history taking and doing a physical is so important and the damage it does to the patient if this is missing as it is happening in the United States. I feel the same with these webinars and tele consults.

One thing I must accept which is good in these webinars, I am at liberty to snooze unobserved which is tough in physical meets.

One last word of praise, though not as good as a physically held conference, the virtual conference organized by the Kerala chapter of the AFPI was the next best. In these future virtual conferences, I suggest, have a separate place for meeting friends and do the much needed, ‘idle talk [gossip]!


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