I have a case of Zoomphobia

You’re in class, listening to the professor and taking notes. Suddenly, you hear your teacher ask a question: Which author invented the paperback book? Silence. Your teacher prompts the class, saying, “He also invented the serial.” Silence again. You know the answer — Charles Dickens.

You also know answering this question will get you those participation marks you seriously need because you’ve never participated in class before.

You start moving your mouse slowly towards the reactions button. You click on it. You now have your mouse over the raise hand button. About to press it, you stop.

You want to press it but you can’t. Something is stopping you. The teacher, having waited long enough, says the answer to the class. Charles Dickens.

You wonder why you hesitated, why the words couldn’t come out of you, why you were so nervous just to utter one name. You knew the answer, you were sure. Yet you couldn’t do it.

Perhaps it’s because you’re afraid of your screen appearing on everyone else’s, free for judgment from all 150 students in the class: ‘Oh, they got out of bed, what a tryhard,’ or ‘Oh, they’re taking this class from their bed, so lazy.’

Perhaps it’s the black screens facing back at you when you speak, betraying no reaction to what you’re saying, giving you no way to gauge whether your answer is right or wrong. Perhaps it’s the fear of what your voice will sound like on the microphone; is it blaring because your earphones are too close to your mouth?

You remember back when school was in person and Zoom was a thing for old people at desk jobs. Back in the classroom when a teacher would ask a question and be met with blank faces of no one knowing the answer.

Back then, you raised your hand and the teacher would call on you. No turning back now. Everyone in the class would turn to face you, at the edge of their seat over whether you were going to absolutely humiliate yourself or not.

You glance at the clock watching the seconds tick by. You start sweating. Charles Dickens. Everyone looks back at the teacher, waiting for confirmation. Your teacher nods his head and continues on with class. You’re safe.

Ah, good times. What you would do to go back. You might’ve felt nervous then but, looking back, you didn’t even know what nerves were. You promise yourself that the next Zoom class you’ll speak up, but you know that’s not true. You promised yourself that the last four classes.

Oh well, your class is back in person on February 7, hopefully that’ll be the end of all your Zoomphobia.