We are excited to introduce our new humor column, Sunny Side Up! A column about college life that might make you think about it a little differently – and hopefully laugh at it, too.
Welcome to the Museum of the 2020’s! I’m glad you all came to experience a blast from the past. My name is Anna and I’ll be your tour guide for the day. I’m going to guide you through one of our biggest curiosities from the decade. This strange phenomenon is called a “class Zoom call.” Most people who get caught in one survive to tell the tale, but usually not without some damage.
Step right this way to our first display. You see all these people staring in fear and horror? This is what happened: the professor forgot to screen share. A terrible situation. They suffered in silent embarrassment until a girl named Jane spoke up and interrupted the professor to inform him. Her heroic act saved the rest of the group, but Jane now suffers from Zoom anxiety. She blushes constantly and hasn’t spoken since.
In Exhibit A over here, you can view a simulation of when a professor asks, “Any thoughts?” This event happens in stages. The first is total silence. In the second stage, two people get brave and start to speak. Their voices garble together and nobody can hear anything that was said. The third stage regresses back to total silence while random screens light up and everyone stares at each other wondering who spoke. The fourth stage consists of the professor deciding to move on because nobody will admit that they tried to say something.
This is Billy, our living history presenter. He’s agreed to tell you about his personal experience surviving a class Zoom call. Go ahead, Billy.
“It was awful. When I joined the call, only half of my classmates had their cameras turned on. I couldn’t decide if I should leave mine on and feel vulnerable, or turn it off and feel like a heel. I really didn’t want to look like the indecisive person who turns their camera on and off the entire call. *Sob* Eventually I decided to turn it off, and that was when I realized that I hated my profile picture. But even with my camera off, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my professor could see me in my room, since I could see him and hear his voice. *Sob* Finally he told us that we all needed to turn our cameras on. But then I realized something must be wrong with my eyesight, because my classmates looked like walls and blankets and windows. I – I couldn’t see any of them. It was like they weren’t even there.”
There were a few rare brighter moments in class Zoom calls. Here you can observe another presenter named Mary. She liked a boy named John who was in her class, but she didn’t want him to know because she’s very shy. The calls were a great opportunity for her to stare at him and he never knew she was looking. They are now happily married. Studies show this was a very common occurrence.
Here in Exhibit B, there is a representation of what was called the chat. Don’t get too close, they can be very toxic. This toxicity was often caused by unwanted political opinions being shared, private comments being sent to the whole group by mistake, or bad puns being made. In some rare situations, a person would put something worthwhile in the chat, but usually the professor wouldn’t see it and read it aloud until ten minutes later, when it made no sense in the context. Other times the chat was used for questions that the professor never saw or answered. Occasionally this forced people to unmute and ask the questions out loud. Few forgot this excruciating experience.
Let’s take a moment to watch this video.
Professor: “Bob, do you know what you’re doing for this assignment?” *Silence* “Bob, can you hear me? Bob, are you there?” *Silence*
It’s a short, disturbing film. There are only two possible answers: Bob fell asleep, or Bob is dead.
If you are a sensitive person, please avoid Exhibit C. You can re-live a phenomenon that was part of the class Zoom called a breakout room, but the experience is too painful for many people.
We’ll bypass the display about the shirtless student. He was a part of many class Zoom calls, but researchers have never discovered the meaning of his presence or the point of his choice of minimal clothing.
Finally, let’s hear from one last living history presenter. Marsha, take it away.
“I will never forget the first class Zoom call that I attended. When class ended, I couldn’t find the leave meeting button and everybody left the call before me. *Sob* There were five horrible seconds of silence while my professor and I were the only ones left on the call. I saw her nose hairs up close as she tried to end the meeting. *Sob* I never joined another call and I failed the class.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour and learned something along the way about what the 2020’s were like. On your way out, don’t forget to take a peek at the “Trying to eat on a call without looking like you’re chewing” exhibit.