What Really Goes on Behind the Zoom Screen (for an Introvert)
As my six-month spring break of binging shows on Hulu and Netflix ended, I had to accept that I would start my education at Zoom University for the foreseeable future. While some brave souls have decided to head back to Charlottesville, I am staying in my childhood bedroom for the semester. I set 10 alarms to make it to my classes throughout the day, and suffer while attending small lectures. I notice I’m the only one without my camera on, and that’s because the Zoom camera does me no justice.
Remaining silent in class is my best option to go along with the video off, but I can only remain quiet for so long. As an introvert, I like to listen to what others say, and I feel most comfortable (which is to say not comfortable at all) in small in-person lectures. The breakout rooms are where all the action happens this semester, and that works for me. With a smaller group of people, I feel more confident sharing my ideas because I feel connected to each individual, which gives me a better sense of what to say.
Professors ask us to update them with our weeks as if we are all not in the midst of a pandemic and still attempting to succeed in our education. I think to myself, “If I were to speak up, what would I say? That the highlight of my week is the mail that I have been expecting for a week?”
But even in small groups, how I dread when the teacher says, ”Let’s start with introductions.” Repeating the same facts about yourself about ten times in a week gets tiring, so I rejoice when professors add something new to the “let’s-introduce-ourselves” mix, like “What’s your favorite sound?” or “Who is your favorite TV show character?” Anything fresh and fun provides a break from the usual Zoom tedium. Here are a few questions I’d love to hear a professor ask:
- What albums have you listened to over this break?
- What’s your enneagram type?
- What is your Meyer-Briggs personality type?
- What is your Zodiac sign?
- If you could get rid of the coronavirus by eliminating one major part of society what would it be?
Hearing students’ answers to questions like these would help me get to know them better, and maybe then I would feel more inclined to connect and participate online. Professors ask us to update them with our weeks as if we are all not in the midst of a pandemic and still attempting to succeed in our education. I think to myself, “If I were to speak up, what would I say? That the highlight of my week is the mail that I have been expecting for a week?” Or maybe, “I finally decided to stop waiting to watch that one show on Netflix that is about to leave.” I don’t mind and even actually kind of like hearing other people’s weekly updates. But as I sit there behind the screen, laughing at or empathizing with their stories, I think, “Well, actually this is less awkward than if I were listening in person, in a large lecture hall.” In-person, I might have felt self-conscious about whether I should just sit quietly and listen passively, or if I should turn around uncomfortably just to show the person I am actively listening to them. Being able to hide behind a screen takes some of the awkward out of introversion.
This school year has flipped my life upside down, and I’d like to take the semester off, but sadly I have to finish this degree. I can’t imagine having to spend an extra semester in this online environment, but--true confession--it is nice not having to interact with people. Of course, I’d like to be closer to my friends while completing this term, but we’re in a pandemic. Americans have become so used to living in a pandemic, that we have adjusted our entire lives around it. Personally I’d like to end the coronavirus so that I can get rid of Zoom and finally sit silently in class in peace.