Dear Annie: Video conferencing tips shared

Annie Lane, syndicated columnist

Dear Annie: Throughout the pandemic, I’ve noted some things that make for a successful Zoom or FaceTime call. Perhaps these suggestions will be of use to your readers.

1. Look at yourself on your screen. What you see is what others will see.

2. Do not sit with a window or other bright light behind you. You will be a dark silhouette.

3. Have the light or window facing you from higher, beyond the laptop, or up to 45 degrees off to the side.

4. Incandescent lights are warmer and make you look more alive. Natural window light alone, particularly if snow is on the ground, can make you look ghostly pale blue.

5. Place your laptop on a table to keep it from moving around to dizzy others. TV tray tables work.

6. Sit close enough so your head nearly fills the screen and you are recognizable.

7. Adjust the screen/camera angle to include your full face, preferably from nearly the same level to eliminate facial distortions and dominant ceilings. Sitting on extra cushions can sometimes help.

8. If there are two of you making the call together from one device, sit close enough so both faces show equally.

9. Check your background for distracting clutter. — Harvey V.

Dear Harvey: Video conferencing has been so important during this past year, and I hope people will continue to make use of the technology even after the pandemic ends. Thanks for the tips on Zooming like a pro.

Dear Annie: We have two grown sons, whom I will call “Tim” and “Tom.” One is our biological son and the other is adopted. They are a few years apart and live just a few miles apart. When they were growing up, they were somewhat close, but they have been estranged for a number of years. There was never really a falling out or major disagreement between them or anything like that. Tim has expressed that he’s worried that Tom will take advantage of him in looking for job connections. Tom says he doesn’t want to make the first move because he says he always has to make the first move in communicating. So nothing happens. They have never communicated the reasons to each other. It was very awkward on Christmas when we did a FaceTime call together.

I’m very hurt because of this. My one desire is for them to be close. This bothers me a lot. Do I just let things go on as they are, or should I make some effort to get them together? — Mom with a Last Wish

Dear Last Wish: I feel for you. Every parent wishes for their children to have special lifelong bonds with their siblings. But your sons are adult men with their own lives and beliefs. You can’t force them to be closer. And trying to do so will only drive them further from you. Continue to create spaces to gather as a family, even if it’s just virtual for now, and even if it’s awkward. Hopefully, in time, that ice will thaw a bit. In the meantime, focus on your relationships with each of them individually.


Dear Annie: I’m very much in love with a man three years younger than me, and we are getting married in February. We are both in our 60s. He is an incredible man. His wife of 32 years died four years ago, and I’ve been widowed for 10 years.

My issue is that he still has pictures of his wife with him on vacation, on cruises and sports events, and a huge portrait of them that hangs in the den.

Am I being crazy? This bothers me a little, but I don’t know how to approach him about it. He placed a picture of the two of us right next to a picture of him with his late wife. I own my own house, and he owns his house, and the plan is for me to move into his house. Should I let this go? It is absolutely the only thing that gets to me about our relationship. Help! — A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Dear Picture: His wife of 32 years is a part of what made him special — the person you love. At the same time, it is not fair to you to be reminded all the time about his late wife. I would let him know your feelings. Perhaps, as you move in, you could agree to have one photo of you and your late husband and one photo of him and his late wife, along with photos of the two of you.

The other photos can be saved in boxes and albums, so you will both have them to see whenever you want, but neither of you will be forced to focus on the past. You did not mention children. If there are photos of his late wife with their children or of your late husband with your children, then you might agree on a compromise for displaying them — or giving them to the children.

He sounds like a very reasonable man, and if you have this conversation before you are married, my guess is that he will understand. Congrats on finding true love.

Editor’s note: Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


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