Keep calm and Zoom on: Appreciating ‘Zoom silence’

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Most of us are probably familiar now with “Zoom silence.” There’s nothing quite like that awkward space of air between you and your other classmates. I’ve definitely been in the same position where my mind wandered off, or I tried to avoid all eye contact or, of course, I occasionally opened up tabs on my screen and pretended I was not even on Zoom. But these voids of stillness with our fellow Golden Bears don’t have to be all that uncomfortable. Instead of cringing at the silence, we can learn to embrace it and see it from a different perspective.

Recently, a peer of mine brought up the fact that silence in the classroom can mean that students are learning! Oftentimes, we forget that we need a moment to digest all the information that’s coming at us. While we naturally want to rush on to the next topic to fill the void of quietness, try taking this time to write some extra notes, think of any questions you might have or just enjoy education in process. Think of the silence as the sound of students taking in knowledge.

What has also helped me appreciate Zoom silence is the comfort that I’m not alone! This means that when something might feel awkward to you, someone else is most likely feeling the same way. Acknowledging the presence and community of your fellow Bears might take the pressure off of the silence that can otherwise feel cumbersome. There’s something reassuring about knowing that you’re definitely not the only one who’s thinking about the silence.

Another way we can appreciate “Zoom silence” is to see it as the blessing that it is! We’re always busy and moving, but these “awkward” moments of quietness in class don’t need to be a part of our constant stress. Instead, try taking them as a sign to take a breath. It’s nice to slow down sometimes, and we have a tendency to not do it without someone or something forcing us to.

Before, I might have panicked at the awkward silence of a Zoom call. Whether my professor was trying to figure out share their screen or my breakout room was done talking, there was something uneasy about the quietness. Now, I like to look at it as a moment where I can reset, write extra notes down or laugh at the fact that we’re all sharing the same thoughts about it. Hopefully, this offered you a new perspective on how you can appreciate the silence during your next Zoom call.

Contact Marissa Boling at [email protected].