The painfully awkward Zoom moments we all still hate

Illustration of people doing chaotic things on zoom, while someone is frantically trying to press buttons on the screen.
Lucy Yang/Staff

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It’s been more than a year since the world transitioned to remote meetings and classes, and yet, each day is still filled with the dread of at least one awkward Zoom moment. From unintentionally turning your mic or camera on to asking, “Can you repeat that?” because of your shoddy Wi-Fi, here’s a list of uncomfortable Zoom moments we all share in our continued agony of not being face to face. 

You’re the last person to leave the call

Admittedly, this happens to me a lot. By the end of class, I’m ready to check out and will often not be paying attention to lecture. Before you know it, the Zoom chat is being spammed by the “Thank you, professor!” students, and you have to scramble to leave the call. Every once in a while, it gets down to just you and the instructor, followed by the fleeting moments where you see your frozen face right as your computer informs you that “the host has ended the meeting.”

You and another person speak up at the same time

You know the drill — someone poses a question, there’s a noticeable silence and you decide to muster up the courage to be the first one to talk. Someone else does too, and you both vocalize half a word before repeatedly saying, “Sorry! No, you go first.” The popcorn strategy, in which each person who talks passes the mic to the next speaker, and the “raise hand” function are excellent ways to prevent this from happening. 

Your default meeting setting is camera and mic on

We’ve all been there before, but in case you haven’t figured this one out yet, you can adjust Zoom’s settings so that every time you join a meeting, the camera and mic default to “off.” Retain the control to share that beautiful face and voice only when you’re ready! 

The call is so dull you have to make up an excuse to leave

There’s no shortage of excuses to leave a meeting that doesn’t invite too many questions early. Your laundry is done, your DoorDash is here, the power to your fridge went out, you’re getting another call — take your pick because the possibilities are endless.

Your Wi-Fi cuts out and you’re not sure if people heard you

Did people ignore what you just said, or did your signal cut out mid-sentence? Either way, you’re left not knowing unless someone else asks you to repeat yourself. And even then, there’s nothing more uncomfortable than realizing everyone is paying attention to you as you make a mediocre effort to contribute to the group discussion.

You’re scrambling to share your screen properly

That green arrow is the bane of our collective existence. Choosing the right windows to share is a pain like no other, especially if you’re the type of person to constantly have more than 50 tabs open. Even after you share your screen, you’re left with that lingering feeling of not knowing what others are seeing, an insecurity that chases you until the sacred moment when you can stop sharing.

Hopefully these awkward and relatable Zoom moments give you some peace of mind if you were stressing over the fact that you still don’t seem to have the hang of this virtual stuff a year later. After all, the sooner we get back to the familiar feeling of awkward moments being relegated to in-person interactions, the better.

Contact Abhi Varma at [email protected].