Zoom fails make online school just a little better

Many classes this semester are taking place over Zoom. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

It was a typical Wednesday morning when Sydney Barksdale, a junior elementary education major at the University of Maryland, was sitting at her desk using Zoom on her phone to attend her MATH212 lecture. Unmuted, she set the phone up against her laptop right over the computer’s speaker, as she always does.

“HEY OHAGI!!!” shouted Moesha, Kim and Niecy from the ‘90s sitcom Moesha as Barksdale clicked on Safari on her laptop, not realizing Netflix was still open. It was so sudden and so loud, Barksdale said she noticed a few of her peers laughing.

“It scared me, too,” she admitted. 

Barksdale played it cool, apologized and moved on, but it was a story she would definitely remember.  

With most classes currently online, it is not uncommon to hear about embarrassing, funny or odd situations students and professors experience during this weird, hybrid Zoom semester.

I’ll admit, starting my first anthropology lab with my roommate barging in — wearing just his boxer shorts and handing me an egg sandwich — was not the best. And many other students have similar stories. Some are funny, and some are downright awkward. 

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Liam Kerth, a senior international business major, was in a Zoom class when one student’s computer was knocked off their desk. Kerth saw the student light up a bong and clear it before realizing their computer was now at an angle in which everyone could see what they were doing. 

“His eyes got really big, and then he just slammed it on the ground and moved the computer,” said Kerth, who had to turn his video off in the moment because he couldn’t stop laughing. 

Kerth described another peer who looked up and immediately looked back down again, as if she didn’t see what had just happened. Surprisingly, the professor didn’t notice. 

Ari Sanjar, a junior environmental science and policy major, said her professor didn’t notice when Sanjar’s entire apartment flooded due to the major thunderstorms earlier this month. 

Sanjar was sitting in class, anticipating that she might have to leave to deal with flooding which she said was typical for her basement apartment. She texted in the chat, warning the professor that she might have to turn her video off but was too focused after that to notice the water seeping in. 

“Have you seen the water?” asked Sanjar’s roommate as she walked in. Sanjar looked down and, sure enough, there was water everywhere. She and her roommate started moving everything off the floor and tried calling the landlord, all while Sanjar was still technically in the Zoom class. 

As if this wasn’t enough, Sanjar said the flood breached the sewage lines. 

“It literally smelled like shit,” she said. 

After doing everything she could to stop the flood, Sanjar rejoined her class, only to find a bothersome reminder from the professor to turn her video on. 

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Other incidents strike a more serious note, reminding us all to make sure that mute button is pressed. 

When Danielle Tayco’s statistics professor ironically asked what the likelihood of someone in the class getting COVID-19 was, the junior mechanical engineering major unironically replied.

“Oh, I had coronavirus,” she said — unmuted, to the entire class. 

“Oh man, that sucks,” her professor said, without skipping a beat. It was followed by 10 seconds of complete silence. 

Tayco immediately texted her peers, hoping they didn’t hear her snarky comment or the personal information she just admitted to the entire class. But alas, one of them said it was the most hilarious thing they ever saw in their life. Tayco freaked out a little bit. 

“I can’t believe I unintentionally told the whole class about that,” Tayco said.

She was nervous, she said, because getting coronavirus is a personal thing and not something she wanted to share with many people, let alone her entire class. 

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Sam Giedzinski, a senior mechanical engineering major, reminisced about how he was left alone in a breakout room during his writing workshop course when classes first went online last semester. 

When Giedzinski found himself alone he said he decided to “roll with the punches” and wait for the professor to end the breakout rooms. This didn’t go well for him when his professor showed up as she was checking on all the breakout rooms and found him all alone. 

“It’s just me and the professor in a breakout room, which was awkward, to say the least,” said Giedzinski. 

Although the professor was embarrassed that it happened, Giedzinski said he tried to play it cool and laugh it off. 

“This was right when online classes had started last semester, and everyone was still figuring it out,” he said. “It was no big surprise that something like this unfolded.” 

From mute button mishaps to lonely breakout rooms, these are only a handful of the hundreds of Zoom failure stories students likely have. Although there are moments that are dreadfully embarrassing, what else can we do but laugh? It’s the only way to push through the online school situation we’re all facing. 

And although we’re missing out on some great college moments, such as homecoming, going out on the weekends and, for some, physically living in College Park, we at least get to enjoy moments of laughter and unity when witnessing or experiencing those hilarious Zoom accidents that allow you to forget about the situation for a second and make this online semester just a little better.

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