I’ve been spending a lot of time on Zoom recently. The coronavirus pandemic means more of us are working from home and are fully dependent on video conferencing services for meetings. For my coworkers and I, Zoom has been a. The chat rooms are little windows into everyone’s lives; an exercise in voyeurism that can tell you a lot about the people you work with five days a week. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get to meet an adorable pet or baby.
And of course there’s the backgrounds.
Zoom has that fancy little feature that allows you to add virtual backgrounds to chats. Gone are messy lounge rooms — enter endless opportunities for personal expression. Much like the rooms you are trying to hide, your choice of background can say a lot about what kind of person you are. It’s like astrology, but less divisive. Like Buzzfeed quizzes, but with less Disney Princesses.
You’re hanging out on the tropical beach or conferencing under the Northern Lights. This says “hey! I’m an outdoorsy person.” You miss fresh air and feeling the sand between your toes while bragging about how in touch with nature you are.
Or you’re just really hoping someone brings the subject up and you can talk about your trip to Iceland for longer than necessary. It’s kinda basic, but you’re not trying too hard — and we respect it. But when this is over, please stop wearing those toe shoes to work.
A super specific cultural reference
You’re probably one of the younger people in the office. Older coworkers don’t understand the memes you share in the #random Slack channel but you’re having a great time and you make them feel more in touch with the younger generation. They come to you for advice about their kids and probably tried to set you up with their nephew at last year’s Christmas party.
You’re really into fandom and had a thriving Tumblr account in High School. Today, you’re a proper grownup, and have moved onto Twitter where you run a popular stan account. You list the dates and times your idol interacted with you on Twitter and can’t stop saying sksksksksksk.
A cute animal
Let’s be real — your hair hasn’t felt the touch of a brush in days. Your quarantine treats that were meant to last several weeks only lasted three days and every day your skin grows more pallid thanks to a total lack of vitamin D. We’ve all looked better, it’s ok. The easiest fix of all is simply using a cute animal in the background. People will be so distracted by the adorable bunny behind you they’ll forget you even exist! It’s a win-win.
A screenshot of another person in the zoom call
Picture this: you’re in the middle of a catch-up meeting and someone sneezes funny. Or gets distracted by something just out of frame. To everyone else, this is just another moment in their day. Not you. You take a sneaky screenshot and set it as your background. You say nothing. Slowly people realize what you’ve done and there’s little laughs of recognition. Some might even laugh through their nose — that little blast through the nostrils that says “that was a good one.”
To you, this is the height of comedy. You’re probably the eldest child and, even to this day, younger siblings flinch a little bit when you walk past, scarred from the ‘hilarious’ pranks you pulled growing up.
Bonus points: there are TWO people like this in the chat. They take screenshots until everyone forgets what the original meeting was about. Your coworkers are so, so tired.
A photo of you at your desk (to make it seem like you’re paying attention)
If you’re anything like me, you probably have had some trouble sleeping at the moment. Anxiety, uncertainty and a touch of existential dread thrive at night, when you’ve just gone to bed and want nothing more than rest. Or, you’ve been playingfor eight hours straight because you have a mortgage to pay off and those sea bass aren’t going to catch themselves.
Either way, you’re tired. You can’t stop from dozing off during catch-ups.. Thankfully, there’s a solution. Simply take a photo of you at your desk and set it as your background. It’s foolproof. You’re an innovator, a go-getter and have buckets of creativity. You’re probably fun at parties, when you’re not sneaking off to random bedrooms to have a nap.
No background, but sitting in front of your perfectly arranged bookshelf
Oh, someone has joined the Zoom chat? Sorry, I was lost in The Bard’s writings.
You like books. You’re proud of your collection and ordered five more this week because books are the only thing you can control right now. You like to say that the books are better than the movies and when someone asks for Netflix recommendations, you tell them to read a book. You spent ten minutes before the call finding the perfect angle, rearranging shelves so coworkers only saw your smart books and not the teen fantasy novels you prefer to read. If no one comments on your bookshelf you are devastated.
No background, but props or a costume
You’re the office enigma. No one really knows who you really are outside of work. Sure, you’re friendly and talk about your life with your coworkers — but there’s always some critical information that you leave out.
Zoom chat is the perfect opportunity to add to your growing mythology. Who cares what the meeting is about when your background is a smorgasbord of peculiar paraphernalia? Where did you find such a flawless replica of a 16th century longsword? Are you a trained opera singer? Is that skull in the background plastic or real? You say nothing; these are but a taste of the real you that lurks beneath the surface.
You’re not here to indulge in small acts of whimsy. You’re here to talk numbers and strategy. KPI! Synergy! Let’s circle back at the end of the week! You love saying stuff like this and it makes you feel important. Working from home hasn’t fazed you; you still wake up at 5 am to do push-ups and walk around the block exactly once.
The real kicker is that your work space is entirely blank — you don’t even give your coworkers a chance to take a peek at your place. They have no choice but to assume that your place looks like Patrick Bateman’s in American Psycho. Your favorite books are The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Four Hour Work Week. You wear jeans to work. At home. Every day.
Or, you haven’t learnedyet. Chop chop!
- Colleges That Require Coronavirus Screening Tech Struggle to Say Whether It Works – The New York Times
- Colleges That Require Virus-Screening Tech Struggle to Say Whether It Works – The New York Times
- Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities Expands to DC to Diversify the Tech Ecosystem – Yahoo Finance
- Turkey Widens War Tech Hunt by Tapping Pakistan’s China Ties – Bloomberg
- Tech recruiting lessons in the Covid-19 era – Information Age
- Virtual tech event highlights local STEM professionals during WHAT I CAN BE! Tech Career Showcase – Herald-Mail Media
- Accenture’s Tech Push Makes It World’s Most Acquisitive Company – Bloomberg
- Tech Hosts Duke for Senior Night – Men’s Basketball — Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – Georgia Tech Official Athletic Site
- No. 22/19 Tech set for final home game, takes on Cards – VT hokiesports.com