There are Zooms for pub quizzes, Zooms for dinner parties, Zooms for work meetings and now there is a Zoom for sitting together and not talking at all. Behold, the silent Zoom! On paper, the practice of logging on to a video-conferencing site to sit with strangers for an hour without communicating may hold limited appeal. In practice, silent Zooms have become a lifeline in lockdown for users trying to focus on writing, reading, meditation and more. Author Anne Penketh has been retreating to “a virtual monastic retreat” for an hour every day to work on her novel. Initially, she struggled to understand the concept: what would be the point of Zoom without conversation? Finding silence to write in was not a problem for her, so Penketh was sceptical about what would make silence so productive in a potentially awkward group setting. She became a convert from the very first session.