If there existed a Litany for Video Conferences, I have no doubt that the first petition would include a reference to muting the microphones of non-speaking participants whose background noise contributes to impaired audibility and a wholly excessive amount of distracting spotlighting (that’s what it’s called when someone makes a sound and their video takes center stage even though they aren’t the presenter).
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to mute others and to mute ourselves in the broader context of our society, particularly at this time. There is a lot of background noise and also a lot of unnecessary highlighting of individuals who are not contributing to supporting others or solving the important problems we are facing. We need to be asking ourselves whether the words and actions we put out into the world are helpful and kind or counterproductive and cruel. If the latter, it’s time to mute ourselves. Similarly, if there are those whose voices are being muted by inequity and injustice, it is our responsibility to help them be heard.