Whether on Zoom, Google Meet, or FaceTime, virtual backgrounds are always an option, but how about getting to see the "natural beauty" of video conference backgrounds to get a genuine sneak peek into people's lives?

In the age of video conference meetings and hangouts, it’s been fun for me to get a small glimpse into the way people live based on what their background looks like behind them.

You should know upfront that while I understand and respect the usage of virtual backgrounds (oftentimes out of necessity), I prefer getting to see the space in which people are taking their meetings and calls. I rarely have the exception that a person’s background needs to be the most pristine or include the coolest art pieces, but for some reason it makes it feel more personal and less distant than a virtual background. As video conferencing has become the norm because of the continued need for communication and connection, there’s something to be said about the small things that really do connect us. Being able to inquire about items seen in the background and noticing differences in arrangements or locations feels like an opportunity to reclaim some of that person-to-person interaction that we’ve been missing the past year.

This is what my background used to look like before I switched it up entirely. Would generally get comments about the color-coordination of books or specific records I had on my shelf. Relatively fun conversation starter - kind of miss it.

This is what my current background consists of. It’s a bit more boring, but the switch was motivated by me moving my desk as far away from my bed as I possibly could to ‘break up’ home versus work. The plus side is that this keeps me accountable to making my bed every day.

This is what my desk set up looked like for several months at the beginning of quarantine (also the only photos I have include alcohol, so if that doesn’t say anything about what the 1st/2nd lockdowns looked like, I don’t know what does).

And now my current view. As much as I kind of care about what my background looks like to other people on video conferences, I’m the one who spends time at my desk and the one who has to look at what’s in front of me the majority of the day. For that reason, I find myself spending more time curating what my view looks like versus others, and thus this little nook was born.

None among us are strangers to the concept of spending time inside and at home this year. Our space - what it looks like and how we feel about it - has become something we now think about on a daily basis. Whether on Zoom, Google Meet, or FaceTime, I’m hoping we’ll begin to see those moments as opportunities to connect by way of showing a more honest glimpse of what our lives look like, one background at a time.

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