Everything changed, and it changed fast. Some people jumped right into the deep end of living online and other people forgot they should wear pants to work.
Listen, I get it. Stuff feels crazy. Long-term stress and anxiety are what’s for dinner at this point. But we WILL eventually have to go back to seeing each other in person. Eventually.
And as much as I enjoy the telenovela that is watching other people’s lives in real time when they know damn well we can see everything that is happening, there are just some things I could have lived my whole life without seeing (and maybe a few things that I can’t get enough of!).
There will never not be a time that I don’t want to see your pets. Cats, dogs, birds, fish, lizards. I love them. All of them. I want to see them in every meeting. What I don’t want, however, is that one guy who refuses to allow himself to be muted, screaming every two minutes for his precious Muffy “to get off the desk! GET OFF THE DESK. MUFFFFFFFFFFFFFY. GET DOWN!” Muffy isn’t going to listen. And no one is thinking you are dating material by being exceptionally assertive with your pet cat. And that brings us to:
Muting Your Mic
This feels like the new power flex, being that person who refuses to keep his or her mic on mute. I mute you, you unmute, I mute you again, you unmute again. Then I have to lock your mic because you can’t be trusted. We don’t need to hear wind noises, children screaming, heavy breathing, the neighbors obsessively watching “CSI: Miami” with the volume on 300 or the riotous sound of feedback because you simply can’t sit still in one place long enough to get through a meeting. Speaking of what we don’t need to hear:
Going to the Bathroom:
We all heard about the famous Supreme Court Flush at this point, I am sure. I’ve even had the pleasure of viewing the multi-toilet paper hand wrap that we do when we know the situation is not just a tinkle. DO NOT TAKE YOUR PHONE OR LAPTOP TO THE BATHROOM WITH YOU. Turn your camera off, mute your damn mic and tell everyone you will be right back using the chat function. Please. I beg you. And on that note:
I See London, I See France
I have seen too many of you in your underpants. Fact. At what point did anyone think that getting dressed from the waist up was the right thing to do? What amount of time are you saving? Is it a rebellion thing? Are you trying to show off the fact that you haven’t had an appropriate waxing in eight weeks? I need to know more about why this is happening. And this is coming from a woman who is very often in her underpants. Time and place are key. Considering time and place:
Why Does Your Zoom Room Look Like the Aftermath of a Nuclear Meltdown Site?
Small explosions everywhere. Two-headed geese. Children running naked eating Cheetos for breakfast. I’m not here to judge, my house is often a mess. But what the hell happened in there? No really, I want to know. Send me a private message. But:
Chats Aren’t as Private as You Think
Oh, sure, there is a little thing in the chat that says “private” and you think this will be a great time to complain to your work husband about how irritating Karen from accounting is when she won’t stop talking about her Trolls World Tour Scrapbook. But you know what? At the end of the meeting those little “private” transcripts are available for all of the hosts to download and see! You better hope your boss isn’t a Trolls fan. And then:
Eating Family-Style-Size Meals on Camera
I get it, life is hectic right now. Schedules are all over the place. The aforementioned kids are running around screaming like banshees. But do you have to wheelbarrow in a spaghetti dinner to eat during our entire two-hour meeting? How did you even get that much pasta? I bet you hoard toilet paper. And let’s get back to those naked kids:
They Don’t Listen Any Other Time; Why Are They Going to Listen Now?
Being at home with kids who are bored, restless, upset, and frankly, being little monsters, is not easy. Especially when you also have to try and accomplish some semblance of work. But let’s revisit Muffy from earlier. Muffy doesn’t listen. In fact, Muffy will be a naughtier cat than ever because Muffy is not getting enough attention and Muffy knows that Daddy is stressed out. Same with the kids. Hollering in a non-stop stream-of-consciousness elevated and frenetic manner to try and convince sweet Haighleigh-Anne to stop chasing Braeyden-Lee and just let him have the last 18 Little Debbie snack cakes for breakfast is pointless. You have no control here. Let them eat cake. And on the note of control:
Turning Your Phone Sideways Doesn’t Trick Anyone into Thinking You Aren’t in Bed
Oh, you think you are so sneaky. Set your phone up so it looks like you are sitting, when in reality you are lying on your side in bed (likely with no pants on, am I right?). The real giveaway is the fact that one of your cheeks is squished like my butt against the glass in a crowded subway train. And one of your eyes is much more closed than the other. YOU AREN’T TRICKING US. You know what also doesn’t trick us:
Not Using Your Real Name on Zoom
I know, I know, it feels super cool to enter a virtual room with the name “Dr. Optimus Prime 69” or “DJAwesomeHitz.” But this isn’t an AOL chatroom from 1997. This is probably a meeting with your boss. And depending on where you work, this tactic might end up backfiring when Karen in HR asks you to DJ her daughter’s wedding for free sometime in July at the Moose Lodge. Think about the implications.
Let’s all work together to create a less-distracting and more clothed online environment. Because when we do eventually have to make eye-contact in close proximity again it’s going to be weird enough. Don’t make it weirder.
Rachel is an award-winning dancer, performer, singer, model and cosplayer from Norfolk, Virginia. She is the owner of Hipnotic World Fitness Center in Chesapeake, the only burlesque and belly dance-focused studio in the Hampton Roads area. At the studio she is an instructor in belly dance and burlesque and leads body-kindness and specialty workshops throughout the year (www.hipnoticbellydancing.com)
Along with the studio, Rachel is the manager of The Feral Showgirls, a traveling production company featuring performers of all types, from burlesque and boylesque to belly dance and beyond. The Feral Showgirls work to be a visual representation of inclusivity, representation and all the fun (www.feralshowgirls.com).
Rachel is also the lead singer/songwriter of the award-winning band Rachel and the JellyCats, an eight-piece band bringing vintage style into the modern world (www.rachelandthejellycats.
Finally, Rachel is a graduate student in mental health counseling, currently completing her internship with a local agency. Rachel hopes to develop a holistic counseling practice that incorporates body kindness, dance, performance and confidence-building to assist clients in reclaiming love for their bodies and minds.