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Getting stuck is not fun.

With technology, in business, or with a marketing campaign, it also doesn’t feel productive. In fact, it feels like you’re spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

One reason for that is because of how long it takes to get anything started. Think of an innovative new tech product like the iPhone or the entire Android platform.

In the early days, getting started took forever. Even the late Steve Jobs didn’t quite realize that the original iPhone was going to become so popular and go well beyond a music player that makes phone calls. Android was stuck in tech purgatory before it actually launched and took hold with the masses. I remember meeting an Android developer early on at Google headquarters as he lamented the slow start.

For anyone in business, if you have an innovative idea, it’s important to analyze your market. Think through the logistics, but then move quickly through the launch phases.

According to author and pastor Keion Henderson, the main reason people question their decisions and get stuck is because they wonder if they can really move forward. It’s rampant and persistent self-doubt. The former NCAA basketball player wrote a book called The Shift: Courageously Moving from Season to Season that is all about the seasonal change in our lives.

In fact, the book itself launched right before the pandemic and Henderson had to shift his entire approach in terms of how he connected with readers. I recently chatted with him on Clubhouse (the drop-in audio app) and asked him why shifting is so important in business.

“You have to count what you already have to see if there is enough equity in your current sphere to make the decision,” says Henderson. Also known as opportunity costs, his idea is to see if there is enough opportunity within your influence to make a decision and finish a task, but then to act quickly.

Successful people spend the time to think about a decision, but then they make decisions without hesitating. They contemplate, says Henderson, then act.

“The moment you know you have to move or move on, you have to do that pretty quickly,” says Henderson. The reason is that the extended rumination and double-thinking after you decide is what slows people down, especially when it comes to career changes or starting a company.

I’ve experienced this many times. I’ve been working on a book lately and there were times when I had to make tough decisions about it. Which chapters to include and exclude, which sections to revise. It wasn’t easy, but when I was able to analyze it and then make the decision, I could then move ahead and implement the changes. I ripped out entire chapters with one click of the delete key and never looked back.

With technology and business, there’s a similar scenario where the “getting stuck” part after a decision is what really causes most of the problems. Namely, other innovators breeze past you and find success. A good idea languishes.

With my book, I’m also aware of how quickly things need to happen. I built a website in only a few days (on my own) because I knew it needed to launch quickly. It’s meant to be a landing page for people to find out more about the book anyway. It didn’t need to be fancy. I plan to follow Henderson’s idea, which he explained on the Clubhouse chat, about doing virtual meetings and I may even pivot to doing a podcast about the book. I researched forever, now I want to launch quickly.

Slow analysis and fast decisions makes sense. 

I plan to put that into practice with most of my endeavors.

On Monday morning the issue of masks to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus was making the rounds on social media – but it was far from a debate. As with so many issues that have divided the country, the issue of masks certainly lacks anything resembling middle ground.

It began after Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on Monday suggested it was “unacceptable,” “dangerous” and even potentially “illegal” for children to be forced to wear face coverings outside. Carlson further said that viewers should report such sightings to the police or child protective services, even as it is still recommended that masks be worn at all times by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the record, the CDC encourages children two years and older to wear a mask when in public or when they are around other people they don’t live with. Health experts have also said that the vast majority of children are safe when the masks are worn properly. However, Carlson made numerous dubious claims – including that wearing of masks can lead to low oxygen levels.

Carlson also suggested that those who wear masks outside were “aggressors” and that it was “our job to brush them back and restore the society we were born in.”

The reaction on social media was swift – with many calling out the Fox News host.

Scott Dworkin (@funder), founder of the Democratic Coalition, has long been a vocal critic of Carlson. On Monday, he responded to the recent debate over masks, “Tucker Carlson is an abomination. Wear masks, get vaxxed and have a good day.”

The sentiment was shared by conservative pundit Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) took issue with Carlson, writing, “The masks stuff is performative idiocy and demagoguery. But the key sentence in Carlson’s rant was this: ‘It’s our job to restore the society we were born in.’ The destructive power of reactionary nostalgia jet-fueled by grievances real or imagined shouldn’t be underestimated.”

NBC legal analyst Katie S. Phang (@KatiePhang) pulled no punches, writing, “Tucker Carlson has lost his mind.”

There were several who called out the Fox News host, with a similar refrain.

“If Tucker Carlson thinks masks are so bad why is he so comfortable wearing his hood?,” pondered MeidasTouch (@MeidasTouch)

Attorney and author Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) wrote, “Tucker Carlson says you shouldn’t be allowed to wear a mask on a crowded city street even as he brazenly wears his hood on set”

The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) also noted, “Tucker Carlson is telling his viewers to openly harass children wearing mask.”

Trending On Social Media

By Tuesday morning, Tucker Carlson was trending on social media alongside “masks” and “child protective services.” There were more than 12,000 tweets for the latter, with most calling out Carlson and few agreeing that such a move was necessary.

“How is my wearing a mask violating Carlson and his viewers rights? He’s calling for them to approach ppl, students in school, parents to call Child protective services? Is there no end to this pos, sitting in front of a camera, creating problems that don’t exist?,” wrote @whatifisaidit.

New York Times columnist and author Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn) also added, “I wonder if people understand what can happen to you after even a frivolous CPS complaint.”

Calls To De-mask

There were some on social media on Tuesday who took aim not at Carlson, but at the continued requirements to wear a mask outside.

Among those taking to social media was the account for @Moms4Liberty, which posted, “Moms are watching our children struggle with masks everyday. We are being told masking is required, necessary and not hurting our kids. Parents, we are being lied to. How do we know? Evidence.”

Author Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) was even more direct, “Don’t wear a mask.”

Mask Debate on Social Media

As with so many issues, social media is where many try to make their voice heard on the issue of masks. The question is whether it is a debate or just each side stating talking points.

“Any place is a good place to present points of view, opinions and facts,” explained Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

“Everyone has an opinion, and some even have two,” Entner added. “We have a problem when all that people want is to talk but not to listen. We have a bigger problem when people say one thing and do another. You can learn a lot more by listening than by speaking.”

The terms “Second Amendment,” “Gun Control” and “SCOTUS” were trending throughout the day on Monday on social media after it was announced that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) had agreed to take up a major gun rights case.

In NY State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. v. Corlett, the justices will consider the extent to which the Second Amendment protects the rights to carry guns outside the home for self-defense.

There were more than 10,000 tweets related to the Second Amendment, and equal numbers for gun control. A tweet from @SCOTUSblog had more than 2,500 likes and was retweeted 883 times.

This will be the first major case related to gun rights that the highest court in the land will hear in more than a decade. At issue in this case is how much the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals to carry concealed weapons outside their home for self-defense. The case is likely to be argued this fall.

Few issues have divided Americans as much as the Second Amendment and calls for gun control. This was certainly apparent on Monday on the social media platforms. The court’s decision to hear the case follows recent mass shootings in Indiana, Georgia, Colorado and California but also comes as there has been a surge in firearms sales, notably to first-time buyers.

Multiple states allow gun owners to carry their firearms when they go out, but several states including New York – as well as California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island – have restrictions in place. The Supreme Court overturned handgun bans in Washington, D.C. and in Chicago in 2008 and 2010 in a pair of landmark cases that redefined gun rights.

Multiple news outlets quickly posted to social media the decision by the court to hear the New York-based case. Greg Stohr (@GregStohr), Supreme Court reporter for Bloomberg News, wrote, “BREAKING: Supreme Court will take up major new gun case and decide whether Second Amendment applies outside the home. Court will review New York law that requires people to show a special need for protection to get a license to carry a handgun.”

Reaction From Gun Control Supporters

Many supporters of gun control expressed their dismay at the news on Monday afternoon.

Activist Andrea Junker (@Strandjunker) was among those who shared memes to make her point.

“The second amendment was created to killed tyrants and protect children, but instead it looks like it’s killing children and protecting tyrants… sheeezz,” suggested @Alexandrawidit.

“There is not one child who wants to die for your second amendment right. Not one,” wrote @mhdksafa.

Gun control activist Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg), whose 14-year old daughter was killed at the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, expressed his frustration on Monday, writing, “Because of this Supreme Court, this is the moment that I have feared. The Trump appointed justices have a track record and they are not likely to put public safety first. We need to get national legislation passed this year.”

Mark Brnovich (@GeneralBrnovich), attorney general of Arizona, saw that this as a state’s rights issue, writing, “Standing up for the Second Amendment is our responsibility. Arizona is proud to be co-leading a 23-state coalition that says our rights do not end when we step out of our home.”

Slate staff writer Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) offered his feelings on the matter, “Going back to the Second Amendment case the Supreme Court granted today, Democrats now have a clear choice between two concrete options: Allow SCOTUS to knock down state and local restrictions on concealed public carry in the midst of endless mass shootings, or expand the court.”

Such strong reactions should not be unexpected.

“The two issues that the GOP developed as wedge issues to divide Americans and drive the party’s comeback in the 1970s were abortion and guns,” said Matthew J. Schmidt, PhD, associate professor of national security and political science at the University of New Haven.

“Republicans were in favor of the right to choose before Roe,” Schmidt suggested. “It’s the same with gun rights. Social media merely amplifies the ideological divide the party needed to create to stay in power. These become religious-like issues because they’re framed as matters of human freedom, which amps up the extremes people are willing to go to.

“And since social media gives a sense of a lack of consequences, behavior gets even more extreme,” added Schmidt.

Second Amendment Supporters Weighed In

Many supporters of the Second Amendment were equally vocal on Monday. This included Republican New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik). She posted a series of tweets in support of the Second Amendment.

Independent filmmaker and political commentator Tim Pool (@Timcast) suggested, “I already have the right to bear arms wherever I choose. its the criminal state and the police that prevent me from doing so”

Republican Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) wrote, “Today SCOTUS agreed to review an important Second Amendment case that asks ‘whether New York’s denial of applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violates the Second Amendment?’ The answer, of course, is YES. Next question?”

The National Rifle Association (@NRA) also was quick to take to social media, “It is hard to overstate how important this case is. The decision will affect the laws in many states that currently restrict carrying a firearm outside of the home.”

The quick response from supporters of the Second Amendment also isn’t surprising.

“Gun owners are some of the most ardent defenders of their beliefs, and for good reason,” explained Teresa Mull, editor of GunPowdermagazine.com

“For one thing, this group of people is used to standing up for themselves, as the Second Amendment is constantly under attack,” said Mull. “What’s more, the rights the Second Amendment protects – namely, the defense of self, property, and loved ones – are personal and passion-worthy. It’s vital to the Constitution and every freedom it ensures that gun owners continue to make their voices heard, despite the determination of social media giants and the mainstream media to ‘cancel’ freedom of speech.”

A Wedge Issue

The Second Amendment/Gun Control remains one of those issues that isn’t likely to find any middle ground on social media.

“In many ways, the gun debate is similar to the abortion debate in that the sides can’t agree on the nature of the question being debated,” explained technology analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. “On the gun question, one side is arguing that the Second Amendment is comprehensive and provides absolute rights similar to freedom and free speech about gun ownership and use; the other side is understandably freaking out about gun deaths and treating them as endemic and thus only treatable through draconian measures justified by the past deaths.”

The issue also is one that could continue to widen the divide as both sides dig in on the social platforms.

“Neither side of this debate seems to want to be reasonable; the left wants to ban ownership of certain types of guns which wrongly focuses on the tool rather than the bad behavior,” said Enderle.

“The right wants no limitations on gun ownership and seems more interested in gun manufacturer profits than citizen safety,” Enderle noted. “Neither position, in my opinion, is reasonable or sustainable.”

I had never thought of this before, but there’s one simple reason why you might be experiencing Zoom fatigue. It’s easy to overlook, although it is staring you right in the face.

On any Zoom call, it is physically impossible to look someone in the eye. Hang on while I explain this, because it’s a little weird. On most laptops or even a desktop computer with an external webcam, when you look at the camera itself, you are presenting an image of yourself that shows eye contact but you are not seeing the eyes of the other person. Look them in the eye (meaning, at the screen itself), and they won’t see your eye contact. You can’t win either way.

(You can try it right now. Look at your laptop or external webcam, then the center of the screen. You will notice your head tilting a little.)

It’s subtle, because we’re talking about only an inch here (or less). The bigger the laptop screen, the less eye contact you’ll have.

According to science journalist and book author Daniel Goleman (better known as the person who popularized the term emotional intelligence), we can’t look people in the eye on Zoom. He mentioned this during a podcast episode recently. To do that, we’d need a camera in the center of the screen or just above center, but that’s not possible with modern technology (yet). He explained how eye contact is an important part of social connection, perhaps the most important part of all.

So why does it cause fatigue?

For those of us who do Zoom calls all day, it multiplies and exacerbates the idea that we are not together anymore. Do about five or six Zoom calls per day for a few weeks, without having good eye contact, and there’s something that happens in our psyche. We don’t feel as connected. We don’t think someone is actually paying attention, even if we see them staring at us. It’s a non-verbal scenario. We’re picking up on the lack of direct eye contact even if we don’t quite realize it, and even though it’s only an inch.

“You either look at the camera or you look at the face,” Goleman says. “The brain doesn’t get the signals you pick up in real life.”

Goleman says emailing and texting is even worse than Zoom calls in terms of our emotional connection. Yet, fatigue happens when we sit through hours and hours of video calls without the social connection humans crave.

We’re tired because the focus is on the exchange of information only and we’re not getting the cognitive rest that occurs when we chat in person.

Without direct eye contact, says Goleman, we miss all of the benefits of human communication. We don’t see, hear, or sense the nuance, and that means our brains have to work overtime. So, how do we overcome this problem?

One solution is to simply recognize it. Start with the why. We’re getting tired because we are not making eye contact but also because we’re missing all of the emotional connection. We are transferring data from one video stream to another. Nothing is real. That means we need to take far more frequent breaks. We need to stop and “smell the roses” quite literally. Take more breaks and find a real person.

The other issue is that it won’t ever change. As long as we’re looking at a screen, we won’t experience the same connection. That means we have to stop over-relying on video chats when we work remotely. Visiting the office, even once a week, will help.

I’ve also started using a wide-angle webcam. It helps because the people on the other end of the chat can see more context. I still get comments about my guitar sitting next to me and why I have a long table full of books. (It’s because I’m writing one.)

Lack of eye contact during video chats is one simple reason why fatigue starts. However, it’s not the only reason. At least being able to identify what’s happening is a step in the right direction.

On Saturday afternoon President Joe Biden became the first United States leader to officially recognize the “Armenian Massacre” as a genocide. The systemic mass murder and ethnic cleansing of more than one million ethnic Armenians began 106 years ago on this day during the First World War under the direction of the Ottoman Empire, and its ruling party, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP).

No Turkish government has acknowledged the crime that was committed, and all of the major political parties in Turkey, expect the Peoples’ Democratic Party maintain support for Armenian Genocide denial. Over the past 100 years, Ottoman and Turkish leaders have argued that the mass deportation of the Armenian populace was justified by national security concerns.

In a statement marking the start of the massacre, in which Biden wrote, “Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from every again occurring.

“Today, as we mourn what was lost, let us also turn our eyes to the future – toward the world that we wish to build for our children. A world unstained by the daily evils of bigotry and intolerance, where human rights are respected, and where all people are able to pursue their lives in dignity and security,” Biden added. “Let us renew our shared resolve to prevent future atrocities from occurring anywhere in the world. And let us pursue healing and reconciliation for all the people of the world.”

Numerous news organizations have already posted on social media links to primers and background to help better understand the genocidal event.

Lawmakers React

A number of American lawmakers also took to social media to weigh in on Biden’s recognition of the Armenian Massacre. Among those was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) (@AOC) who posted, “Truth-telling and full acknowledgment of injustice can be one of the most important steps towards healing. Acknowledging the Armenian genocide is long overdue, and I hope this day brings some degree of peace to impacted families and communities as we move forward together.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) (@SenSanders) also praised Biden’s recognition, “Recognition of the Armenian genocide is long overdue, and I applaud President Biden for this announcement. It is important for all of us to look honestly at history to make sure such atrocities never happen again.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), (@RashidaTlaib) posted, “In the #13District, we always speak the truth. It’s been 106 years since 1.5 million lives lost to the #ArmenianGenocide. We must remember this tragic history and continue to value truth above all else.”

It seems this could be a defining moment that should bring American lawmakers from both sides of the aisle together.

“The Biden Administration is doing the smart and sensible thing in recognizing a clear historical wrong,” said Harry Kazianis, senior director at the Center for the National Interest. “President Biden should receive high praise from all parties and sides of the political spectrum as this move is long overdue.”

Historical Context

While we’d like to think that such a moment would be one without controversy – that is unlikely to be the case however. Some voices on social media quickly suggested that the event occurred during the Ottoman Empire, which was abolished at the end of the First World War. Therefore blaming modern Turkey would be akin to blaming modern Italy for what happened in the Roman Empire, was among the common arguments made not just today but increasingly by some in the Turkish community in recent years.

@OzlemFinnegan was among those who took such a hard line to the facts, writing, “Interesting explainer; they said that, and others said this..Turkish Republic was established at 1922. Why does it have to accept and deal with this? We are not Ottomans, we are Atatürk’s Turks.”

Others also suggested it was the Armenians who started the troubles, and the Ottomans only were responding to a potential uprising, a refrain that has been repeated by Turkish leaders for more than 100 years.

@Hayrani responded to @RashidaTlaib, writing, “Then, learn the truth first, not the distortions of facts and numbers and the hundreds of thousands of muslims mutilated by the Armenian gangs first. Go to US archives in DC  and Boston. Repent for siding with slanderers!”

Future Recognitions

As might have been expected, there were a few that suggested that other events from history – recent and past – should also receive such recognition from our national leaders. This argument was made both as deflection from the plight of the Armenians, but also to call out America’s own past crimes.

“I guess American’s aren’t on the hook for any genocide of Native Americans before the revolution (1776) cuz we were British then, then magically transformed into Americans,” wrote @RiffSkjerven.

“Isn’t time to recognize the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima as a Genocide?,” pondered @mouhab.

@ay_askar was among those who questioned Biden’s recognition, writing, “We are all well aware of the age and memory issues of the current US President @POTUS. But his statement on fake ‘#armenian genocide’, really makes me want to remind him that if he is looking for #Genocide, he should probably check out his own ancestors”

It shouldn’t have been surprising that some people would try to label the event – if not the recognition – as little more than “fake news,” yet the fact it is now recognized could change the attention  and how the tragedy is covered in the media and even addressed on social media.

“Recognition of the Armenian genocide has been a century in coming,” said Matthew J. Schmidt, PhD, associate professor of national security and political science at the University of New Haven.

“America’s reliance on Turkey during the Cold War meant no president was willing to risk losing such a key ally,” added Schmidt. “But President Biden’s recognition finally acknowledges the truth. And in so doing he is also putting China on notice and other states that have counted on the U.S. to look the other way for transient interests. That won’t happen now.”

What if remote work at home was never meant to last this long?

As someone who has worked in an office by myself for decades, I’ve started wondering about the benefits of telecommuting for a while now. Recently, I read a new book about AI and automation that made me question whether remote work is for me.

For years, I’ve wondered why it feels like I’m never quite “up” on the latest office chatter and have such a hard time getting contextual information.

As an example with one recent role, I didn’t realize a colleague actually had a minor injury to her leg and ankle and was wearing a brace. You don’t know that from a Zoom video chat. In another, I had no idea the main office had free cookies and pop in the break room all day. Must be rough!

We seem to be missing out on something.

In his new book called Futureproof, respected The New York Times columnist Kevin Roose (not to be confused with Digg founder Kevin Rose) explained what’s really happening. In fact, when I read it, I stopped short on the page.

“People who have regular, in-person contact with their colleagues have an advantage when it comes to doing the kinds of deeply human work we will need to do in the future,” he writes in the book, elaborating further that we’re “frustrated by how hard it is to generate creative ideas, build team camaraderie, and on-board new employees over Zoom calls and Slack threads.”

He notes in the book how execs at Adobe and Netflix are not advocates of long-term remote work. Roose even explains how Reed Hastings plans to bring employees back to the office “twelve hours after a vaccine is approved.” I won’t spoil where Roose takes it from there, but he cites multiple studies and explains how what I’d call “work by osmosis” is the key to the future office landscape.

“One of the reasons people who do remote work are more productive is that they tend to work longer,” he explained to me in a Clubhouse chat recently. “But there are trade-offs in things like creativity and collaboration. People tend to solve complex problems when they are in the same room. There is something that is lost with remote work.”

He also says our global economy is moving toward softer human skills, since “the pure play productivity stuff is being done by AI more and more.” 

What he means is that, as we move farther away from the corporate office and stop collaborating with humans in person we become more like endpoints. We start competing more and more with the AI that is highly automated and meant to replace human work.

Roose said he learned about journalism early in his career just from being around other writers. He heard conversations around the water cooler and on the phone.

I kept thinking about that leg brace. What else am I missing? The brilliant idea someone mentions in a parking lot chat. The times when a person from accounting walks over to marketing and mentions a funny story from an article, which leads to inventing a whole new product.

Osmosis is more valuable than any of us think. With technology, ideas are always linear. Information goes from point A to point B and never travels far from that route. With human interaction, it travels in fits and starts (in a good way).

In a recent chat on a podcast, the author who popularized the concept of EQ (or emotional intelligence) explained how there is a form of EQ called cognitive empathy, which is our ability to speak and communicate in a way that cares mostly about someone understanding us, not in sharing what we know.

It’s fascinating because we don’t pick up on those cues in a video chat, which means our cognitive empathy has been short-changed. We are merely transferring information. It’s why I’ve always hated Skype calls.

So what do we do about it?

I doubt Roose wants everyone to go back to an office tomorrow, but maybe soon. What he says in the book is that we need to address the problem. He suggests changing your role or finding a way to stop competing with automation. My suggestion is just as dramatic: if you feel like an endpoint as Roose suggests, it might be time to pick up your laptop and head back to the office. Before it’s too late.