From bedroom to classroom, one can only wonder what mysteries lie beyond your classmate’s paused video and muted mic
Travis Rocha, Lifestyle Editor
It’s 7:59 a.m., your final, literal, last minute alarm sounds off to wake you for your first Zoom class of the day at 8:00 a.m. You begrudgingly roll out of bed towards your desk, fumble to turn on your laptop in a hurry, and then bring it with you to hop right back into bed. The next fifty minutes are spent listening to the same lecture on how the Civil War was started that you’ve been hearing since sixth grade. You wonder if people can tell you haven’t showered this morning. The entire class stares absent-mindedly into their webcams, everyone’s mind is elsewhere. 8:50 a.m., class is over and you close your laptop; it’s time to go back to bed. If this sounds at all familiar, you’re not alone because Zoom has blurred the lines of recreation and education for students across the country. The ease and convenience of virtual class is undeniable, and something students may have loved under different, less mandatory circumstances, but the comfort comes with a price.
Growing up, my mom familiarized me with the expression “give someone an inch and they’ll take a mile.” While this may be a bit of a bitter and pessimistic idiom, it certainly rings true in life. Unfortunately, the small concessions we offer one another often do get taken advantage of (e.g., when you let your roommate borrow a sweater that you never see returned or when you pretend to laugh at someone’s joke and then they keep telling you bad jokes because their confidence is up). In the case of transitioning our academic classroom experience from in-person to online, they’ve effectively given us a mile rather than an inch, so students are taking… many miles.
Considering the familiar, lackadaisical environment a person’s bedroom typically exists in, it’s no surprise that trying to focus on class from there is a challenge. Sure, you could listen to your professor talk about astronomy and how to calculate star mass, but why not multitask and open up an Amazon tab too? Now you’re finding some great deals to feed the monster that is capitalism, but wait… What did your professor say about a test? Is it worth unmuting yourself to ask? Also, your phone’s been buzzing this entire time because someone in your group chat just got roasted which was really funny. Okay, back to star mass. Wait, class is over already? Well, looks like it’s as good a time as any for a midday nap. Things were a lot easier to follow along with when your professor was right in front of you, and distractions kept to a minimum. The delicate balance of academic discipline that once defined your collegiate career is now entirely reliant on your own personal integrity to be a diligent student. The weight of your mounting scholarly studies bears heavy on your shoulders, and the temptation of all the internet is only ever a few keystrokes away as your professor rambles on about the reading for this week you swore you would do, but forgot about.
So, what can be done? I mean, everyone has one semester in college they just kind of write off, right? Well, I could tell you the advice you probably already know which is to be engaged in your schoolwork is a choice, and you get what you put in. If you slack off and treat the course material with disinterest, you, unsurprisingly, will not find the material very interesting whereas if you dedicate yourself to the content and interact in class, the entire experience becomes much more rewarding. The issue is, frankly, class is usually dull and life is dreary under the iron thumb of coronavirus restrictions, so getting excited about the latest unit in applied physics is an even taller order than it was previously.
Slouched back, eyes half open, Zoom class probably isn’t going to change much now that we’re in the thick of the semester and our habits mostly set. That’s not to say the semester has to be drudgery though. In fact, it’s safe to assume we’ll all probably miss Zoom class in some way once it’s gone, so enjoy your lazy mornings while you have them. We all know staying inside can be maddening, but remember to be kind to yourself and know that the most important thing is your own happiness. So, if you want to online shop every once in a while during class, I say go for it. Just make sure to pay attention every now and then, alright?