The newest catchphrase seems to be “the new normal,” considering everything about our society is changing in some way or another. For college students, the “new normal” is signing into your virtual classroom while curled up with a blanket, no makeup and coffee (or maybe that’s just me.) No matter your major or classification, we are all in the midst of newness.
As I’ve come to notice, much like a classroom has various stereotypes, a virtual classroom also unveils stereotypes. These are trickier to spot, but I think I have a handle on a few key characters.
The Animal Lover
Somehow, their cat or dog or gerbil always finds its way into the Zoom camera frame. Ecstatic, the classmate attempts to “unknowingly” draw attention to the animal and distract the entire class and professor. This classmate probably envied the on-campus aid animals, possibly considering registering their own pet for their own enjoyment, not disability.
The class could be at 3:15 p.m., yet they seem to be eating—or cooking— a full-blown meal. Most likely, they post their meal and Zoom call on their Instagram story, writing “online class isn’t that bad [heart-eyes emoticon].” Their goal is for the professor to call on them right as they’ve taken a bite so they can respond, “Oops, sorry—I just made a poached egg on top of avocado toast with homemade boysenberry french toast and French-pressed coffee.” This classmate is incredibly dedicated, fancy brunch during one class, then time to make Tik-Tok coffee during their next class.
The Technologically Challenged
A Zoom call is never complete unless there is one classmate who either fails to unmute themselves or fails to mute themselves. Either they spend 15 seconds talking before realizing no one hears a word they’ve said, or the entire class hears what is most likely their younger siblings quarreling in the background. There’s always one.
The “Bad” WiFi
They start off every single Zoom call by announcing their WiFi connection is poor. Each time the professor calls on them, their WiFi has conveniently lost its strength, or better yet the app has crashed. This classmate, however, does utilize the time and WiFi connection to email their professor notifying them of the issue.
The “Cyber Clown”
Their humor has been boxed into setting their Zoom green-screen edit to an old meme or TV show (e.g. “iCarly,” “The Office,” the burning room meme). In the first Zoom class, their classmates and professor acknowledged it—mostly surprised that edit existed—but now the joke is old. It’s far too late for them to use a normal background, so they spend the remainder of their abnormal psychology class with a “Tiger King” photo as their background.
The Vlogger/Tik Toker
Accounting for 2% of the population, this classmate still factors makeup and hairstyling into their daily routine. If anything, they put more effort into their appearance simply because now they have the time. Additionally, they find the best lighting and angle to be in during the Zoom call. Their main satisfaction now comes from recording themselves performing Tik-Tok dances or going Live on Instagram—this is the only homework they’re thinking about during class.
The Bed Bug
Does this classmate ever leave their bed? It’s 4:30 p.m., they’re definitely using their phone for the Zoom call and holding it above their face as their head lies on the pillow—if the class is fortunate, they’ll see the phone fall directly onto their classmate’s face. Usually, they possess the dignity to sit up in bed once they are called on or have a question.
Each student is adapting to this change in their own way, but it just so happens that some are more entertaining than others. Virtual classrooms, although peculiar and inconvenient, are giving us the grace to live as we please, even in the middle of class.