Late last night, I found myself atop Mount Sinai, startled awake by the booming voice of Zoom CEO Eric Yuan coming through the clouds. He bestowed unto me 10 divinely inspired commandments for surviving the crucible of online class.
I’ve decided to share this groundbreaking doctrine with you:
I. Thou shalt put no other programs before me
Zoom is one of the few things the UC Berkeley administration can agree upon, and as such, shall be treated with holy sacrament.
Beware Google Classroom, the golden calf we were warned about.
II. Touch up thy appearance
For all you freshmen crying over dashed hopes of a dorm room romance, try Zoom’s insecurity-inducing “Touch up my appearance” filter. Nothing like starting the day with, “Here’s how you could look right now!”
III. Thou shalt not pay tuition in vain
As tempting as it is, resist the urge to stare off into space. It doesn’t feel like it, but you’re in college, the last way station between childhood and responsibility.
So, participate. The small yellow hand emoji is not a magical participation potion, but it is useful when you have a point to make. Pixels don’t bite, I promise.
IV.Remember thy office hours, and keep them holy
The speck of accountability that came from watching your teary GSI lament another series of lonely office hours is gone. To find a semblance of engagement with your professors, you have to make an intentional appearance in office hours.
There’s even less of an excuse when you don’t have to stumble through the halls of Dwinelle to find the room.
V. Honour thy mute and unmute button
I suggest treating your microphone like a firearm, making sure not to point it anywhere that you would not like it to go off.
Your mute button is the first line of defense against your half-employed parent yelling about COVID-19 cases from downstairs. So please, mute yourself before you politely curse out the professor for glitching through the slides.
VI. Thou shalt not murder
I thought about it, and I’m just going to leave this one in for safekeeping.
VII. Thou shalt not slurp
I can appreciate a good mukbang as much as the next guy, but the skin-tingling ASMR from someone slurping midlecture makes my dissection class even less appetizing. The screen switching to some unsuspecting lip smacker can completely derail a heated discussion.
VIII. Thou shalt clean thy room
No one in your intro to political science class will care about the middle school medals on the wall behind you. Don’t preemptively advertise your dorkdom. Trust me, it comes out on its own.
IX. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s virtual backgrounds
We know you’re not in Cancún, Susan, so you might as well call off the act.
Just take a 10-second Photo Booth video of yourself blinking and looking bored, and put that behind you. Voila! With your background doing the necessary staring off into space, you’re free to take a nap, or perhaps even learn something.
X. Thou shalt not accept impostor syndrome
Every UC Berkeley student, at some point, feels immeasurably out of their depth. We operate with a collective fear that we don’t belong. I’m here to tell you that not only are you wrong, but you’re also wasting your time.
Every single student is here for a reason, and none of us can be certain what it is. Instead of wasting your energy on unfounded insecurities, put that toward finding your place on campus. It’s a big community, and you are indisputably a part of it.
Zoom may seem ominous or otherworldly, but try to take solace in the fact that UC Berkeley is working night and day to salvage our college experience. Your professors and classmates are just as confused as you are.
And with that, I’ll say my final thoughts: Scrape together some optimism, pretend you’re an extrovert and get ready to break some ice.
Contact Luke Stiles at [email protected].