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Zoom Bombing and the Patriarchy. Why is invasion by small children so newsworthy?

In the past few weeks, there will be few of us with young children who have not held a certain anxiety during any video call that family will come visiting. Having been zoom bombed by my son no fewer than 3 times whilst delivering a business presentation (no locks on doors in our house, and a certain aversion to tying my son to his bed), I can confirm it certainly destroys your flow.

But why is it so newsworthy? Having children is a fact of life, and many of us balance our work lives with family commitments. Many of us have caring commitments wider than young children, living with family members with support needs. So why does this separation of work and life exist?

Home working forced upon us by Covid19 is necessitating careful prioritising of family and work needs, and the two frequently overlap. How many parents out there are home schooling concurrent with checking work emails?

Zoom bombing is a fact of life. It doesn’t make us less competent employees or professionals. The fact that I am mother to a small child in no way impacts on my professional competence, and if my son chooses to say hello to other professionals on a video call, surely that’s just life for most of us?

How the media reacts to these transgressions is fascinating however. Recent zoom bombing on national television prompted a Guardian article about Dr Clare Wenham’s experience. Both Dr Wenham and the interviewer handled the invasion calmly and professionally – so what made it news? Is the purpose of these articles to reassure us that it’s ok when it happens to us? If so, it may be counter-productive by highlighting how ‘unusual’ these experiences are….

I feel for the poor reporter who was cut off by Sky News (01/07/20) in her prime, obviously so thrown by her little boy’s appearance that she was unable to continue. And then there’s the case of Prof Robert Kelly back in 2017 who was video bombed by not one but two of his children and became an internet sensation as a result. Watching the footage, his wife’s reaction is laugh out loud funny, but how terribly sad that Kelly’s immediate reaction was “mortification that we had completely blown our relationship with the BBC” and that they would never call again.

The media’s coverage of these incidents serves to highlight just how far we are from a society that recognises that work and life go hand in hand. That our skill and emotional intelligence in the work place is a result of our life experiences, and that we create far more positive outcomes for our children by involving and interesting them in our work lives – creating aspiration, enthusiasm and excitement.

I say bring on the zoom bombing – perhaps in a more planned manner, but we should welcome authenticity in the work place, support colleagues who are juggling family commitments, and ultimately not make it a ‘thing’ if a child is included momentarily in our professional lives.


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