Camera on


Jan Cossiers. (1636-1638) Narcissus [Oil on canvas] Museo Nacional del Prado, Spain.

Narcissus and his pool or me and my zoom square? Trick question! We are the same.

Maia Barnhart, Opinion Editor

I don’t mind attending Zoom University. I have found that I learn just as well from lectures watched at home as I did in class, it’s just a matter of my own participation and determination. Asynchronous classes also seem better suited to climates such as ours, as they allow students to take advantage of the few daylight hours available during the winter months. However, not every class can be taught asynchronously – certain courses require more participation from students in order to really drive the lesson home. 

However, there’s really no reason to force students to have their camera on during lecture-based classes. If students are still participating as necessary during the class time, while it may make the professor more comfortable to be able to see their students, we all need to be more flexible during these strange times. It is more difficult in certain situations to achieve the level of privacy necessary to pay attention to class. Some students also don’t want to be seen by their potential future coworkers while looking like the depressed trash monster we all have become during this unending quarantine. Additionally, sometimes it seems as though having your camera on affects your connectivity on Zoom (anyone else have this problem?) 

These are all totally acceptable reasons to not have your camera on during class. However, the main reason why I choose to keep my camera off as often as possible may surprise you. When I have my camera on for class, I can’t listen to the teacher. I can’t even remember what class I’m in sometimes. I’m too busy staring at myself. 

I am Narcissus, and my little zoom square is my pool. 

Since attending class on Zoom has become the norm, I’ve discovered my extremely detrimental tendency to just gaze at myself for 45 of the 50 minutes I spend on screen. It’s not just that I think I’m pretty – it’s equal parts anxiety manifesting as extreme self-awareness, ADD, and, well, yeah. Thinking I’m kind of pretty. 

As humans, we are naturally fairly egotistical beings. I’m sure I’m not the only person experiencing this specific issue. While I won’t lie to you or myself and say I’m entirely without the flaw, I never used to see myself as a particularly vain person. My inability to pay attention during class while my camera is on is a multifaceted issue rooted in the intractably human traits we all possess.