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Zooming through Quarantine
Ibi Esho

"Can you hear me?? Class! Are you paying attention??” Zoom, the iconic video networking app, has been our main source of communication with our teachers and fellow classmates during this time of quarantine, and those classic phrases are only a few examples of what students hear every day. 

As we all try to figure out the science behind zoom, I’ve noticed three main interesting sides to Zoom many people may not know about. 

One: The TikTok videos. As we traverse this seemingly never-ending quarantine period, almost the entire population of the world seems to have devoted their time and energy to the TikTok platform. And naturally, the content on TikTok has evolved into none other than Zoom content coined Zoom University. 

Countless creators have produced common Zoom situations, ranging from pranking their unsuspecting teachers to pretending to be frozen during a presentation. The views on some of these TikTok videos are astronomical! The video with the hashtag #zoom currently has 1.9 billion views (24.4% of the world population), and the hashtag #zoomuniversity has 74 million views. These arbitrary, nonsensical TikTok videos are perfect for us GenZers, who need a fix of relatable comedy to tide us over during this period. 

Two: The virtual backgrounds. Zoom comes with a special feature known as a virtual background where you can upload any photo to function as your background during your call. During zoom calls, you may see memes, interesting pictures of friends, and iconic television show scenes. 

In fact, going back to the “interesting” pictures of friends, I actually had a personal run-in with that one. One day, I was chilling in a Students Across Borders (SAB) meeting, and my dear friend Connie Ni ‘22 decided to join with a virtual background, which turned out to be a picture of me making a “silly” face in front of 20 people I did not know. Thanks, Connie! 

Of course not all virtual backgrounds, like Connie’s, are facetious, and they do have their benefits. Some can be used to cover up a messy room or a dark alleyway. Overall, virtual backgrounds add fun and excitement to an otherwise featureless 45-minute long Zoom call. 

Finally, three: The opportunities. I briefly mentioned SAB, a program that connects students from around the world to discuss their different experiences dealing with COVID-19 and life in general. From it, I’ve made new friends and learned about people’s lives as far out as Lebanon. 

One of the student leaders, our very own Rosa Anderson-Barrera ‘21, explains the purpose of the program as a way to create understanding through a lens of peace. She believes that “if more people got to know people from different backgrounds we would have less conflicts, especially internationally. It’s been a really cool experience, especially to feel a little less isolated while social distancing, [and] in the future we hope to expand membership, bring in speakers, and hopefully start working on solutions to global problems as well.” 

Sure, incredible opportunities such as SAB come out of Zoom. However, simple moments such as going to family birthday parties, or hosting Zoom meetings with my younger cousins to discuss plans for our new music video have also occurred from this complex situation known as COVID-19.

From awkward classes, to entertaining social media content, Zoom has proven its worth and shown that it can work in many situations. Could we possibly use Zoom more in our future? Has this shown how we can communicate from a distance? Well, of course! But even more so, it has helped us cope with pain during this confusing period and given us the ability to zoom right through this quarantine period.

 

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