Video Conferencing Yearbook

Photo by Ryan McGilchrist via Flickr

In honor of seniors everywhere, here’s a yearbook style collection of personalities we encounter in the larger sphere of online video conferencing along with their popularity features. Which one(s) are you?

Post workout collab.

Athlete

May or may not have worked out or gone for a run. Shows up in active wear. Might still be sweaty.

Popularity feature: Fitness tracker

Blank Slate

Shows up in front of a blank wall. Where are you? Bedroom? Office? Closet? Bathroom?

Popularity feature: Minimalism

Summer Moon Coffee, a favorite coffee house hangout.

Coffee Snob

Sips from a coffee mug. You can see the steam rising. Under normal circumstances, meets from a hipster coffeehouse.

Popularity feature: Chemex coffee pot

Comfy Co-Worker

This one is chill. Shows up without worrying about the camera. Kicks back on a couch or overstuffed chair. You can tell their feet are propped.

Popularity feature: Leather couch

Recent bill for a Delinquent for use of child’s room. Extended stay rates not available.

Delinquent

There is nowhere to go. Uses a kid’s room due to lack of space. Would meet in the bathroom if not for interruptions. Wall color varies from bubble gum pink, lime green, or other primary color. A gold glittered version of the word “Princess” or piles of LEGO make a strong statement.

Popularity feature: Cool toys

Spotify or a meeting?

DJ

Dons high quality noise blocking headphones. Some have separate microphones. Tech savvy. Makes you wonder if they have a side gig. Maybe a podcast or spinning tunes at a nightclub.

Popularity feature: Bose equipment

Fixer-Upper

Shows up in the garage. Probably working on a bunker project prior to the meeting. Make it quick, they’ve got stuff to do.

Popularity feature: Power tools

Ghost

Thumbnail icon is the only indication of this co-worker’s physical presence. There is an aura. Talks and chats, but you never see them.

Popularity feature: Invisibility

Ghost-in-Reverse

Others see a work space, typically a dining room or kitchen. No one ever sees or hears this person. Briefly floats into the meeting, but are they really there? Not there? Hello? Bueller?

Popularity feature: Skipping meetings

Ghostwriter

Characteristics of Ghost. Microphone is muted throughout the meeting. Skilled at using the chat room.

Popularity feature: Fast typing skills

Happy Parent

Littles climb onto their lap and pop into the meeting. These are good parents who cuddle their adorable kids, leave the camera on, let them say hi and then give them something to color. And the child complies. Older kids tend to photobomb the meeting then quickly run to do homework.

Popularity feature: Candidate for sainthood

Not pictured: books. They were busy getting checked out.

Librarian

Identifies with Comfy Co-Worker. Occasionally sips from a book themed mug. Bookcases overstuffed with books and book themed ephemera line walls and are organized by Dewey order or genre. Dim lighting gives off cozy vibe. May wear a cardigan or shawl. Current read is within reach to share with group.

Popularity feature: High IQ and Books

Librarian Wannabe

Strategically placed in front of a highly stylized bookcase. Dips into Librarian and Perfectionist buckets. Wait, are those books organized by color? Please, no!

Popularity feature: Interior decorating

Lost in Space

Enters every meeting with microphone on. Has difficulty finding the microphone muting option despite everyone in the meeting speaking at once offering assistance. Uses remainder of meeting to turn off the microphone and accidentally leaves the meeting.

Popularity feature: Presence

It’s sparkling water!

Miss Hannigan

Woke up 10 minutes ago. Thrives at night shift work. Attends in pajamas and bed-head. Work space ambience is irrelevant. Is that champagne or sparkling water? Whoopsies!

Popularity feature: Champagne flutes

Multitasker

Volunteers to take notes. Eyes dart back and forth, up and down, to and from multiple devices. Head posture bows to reply to text messages. Pops in to ask questions. Answers all questions in chat. Eyes zip back and forth from multiple open tabs on screen. Sends relevant link or email as participants discuss said link or email.

Popularity feature: Highest score on Whack-a-Mole

Nature is energizing. But really, she doesn’t want to be interrupted.

Naturalist

Hangs out in the back yard or a park. Natural light is pleasant. Is that a pool? Are those flowers real? Might swat at an insect.

Popularity feature: Multiple Yard-of-the-Month awards

Perfectionist

Has THE perfect home office, Pinterest style. Shows up with everything in place. Could be a Super-Model, but doesn’t apply makeup in front of the camera. Everything is ready to go. A week early. Body position points to a pen in hand and Erin Condren planner for note taking. You can’t stop looking at the home office. Can you give us a tour? You want that office.

Popularity feature: Attends JoAnna Gaines’ parties

RZF-Resting Zoom Face, a.k.a. Jan Brady

Camera shy. Doesn’t know whether to look at the camera, the boss, or the screen. Nervous about turning camera off in case boss thinks they’re skipping the meeting. Does not slouch. Rule follower. Only speaks when addressed.

Popularity feature: Impeccable manners

Filter? I know nothing of filters!

Supermodel

Attends meeting with full make-up and fashionable wardrobe. Uses camera to make sure every hair is in place. Refreshes lip color before speaking. Looks different in person.

Popularity feature: Beta tester for companies offering camera filter apps

TV News Anchor

Wears a smile throughout the meeting. Dressed in regular work clothes. Posture demonstrates desk sitting. Can lean toward the Blank Slate, but has a well placed piece of wall art or uses a green screen to go “on location” based on the meeting’s topic.

Popularity feature: Wardrobe

Big Tent Revival: Deviled Food

I don’t dance. I don’t dance because Nana said I’d go to hell. I’m afraid of going to hell. I’m afraid of how hot hell is and of the devil poking and prodding me with its pitchfork and its snake-like tail whipping around me. Why is it when I hear music, it bubbles inside me and I’m giddy? It makes me feel like there’s another person inside that wants to come out and laugh and have fun and move and sway. I like the idea of being that fun person who doesn’t care that people watch her move in response to the rhythm and makes up her own swirls and twirls and is just flat out happy. Nana’s voice always stops me.

I didn’t want to dabble with the devil and dancing. When you’re a rule-following first-born (mostly) and spent most of your formative years with your Pentecostal grandma, that’s what you do. No questions allowed because you respect your elders.

“¡Los bailes son del diablo! Dios no quiere que estemos en los bailes. Debemos estar glorificando al Señor.”

No matter how fun and harmless it seemed, dancing never worked for me. I’m stiff and have robotic dance moves. I imagined myself having a good time and maybe even having a boy pull me in close to move in sync with the music. I stared wistfully at other kids while I stood around, the poster child for a wallflower.

I didn’t understand the harm. If people have fun how can dancing be the devil’s work? Why is it so evil? Most kids didn’t even touch each other while they danced unless it was a slow song. Even then, why was that worthy of getting to hell when there were other people around?

I didn’t ask Nana why, she just said to stay away from it. I found that confusing, coming from someone who bought deviled ham on sale from Piggly Wiggly. She fed it to me on days she took care of me while my parents worked. She spread the pink mush on slices of white bread when she packed lunches for all of us as we piled into Papá’s pick-up truck early summer mornings to work the cotton fields. She bought tons of little pull-tab cans, neatly wrapped in white paper stamped with a red devil holding a pitchfork, its pointy arrow tail snaking around, mocking me. You can’t dance because it’s the devil’s work, but here, eat the devil’s meat.

I hated the stuff but ate it anyway because that’s what she packed: sandwiches with salty slimy pink sludge that tasted nothing like ham, smeared on bread. I envisioned a bunch of mashed up devils’ tails packed into those tin cans, with the red faces daring me to eat, winning my soul through hunger.

When I see anything with fiendish depictions, I think about how Nana would respond. I’d take her to Torchy’s and probably get an ear full of Bible verses for taking her to a taco joint emblazoned with cute devilish cherubs tempting you into gluttony. I might order her the Democrat and a margarita, especially since she wasn’t a drinker. She’d denounce the place because she could make better tacos at home, for less, and feed twice as many people. And she’d be right.

She might even top them with a possible nemesis, maybe the devil’s brother, Diablo Verde sauce I found at HEB. The hot one is too damn hot for me, but if you mix it with sour cream, the heat is worth it. The devil is always among us, even in our food. Every time I see a feisty little sprite or hear soul-stirring music, Nana’s voice pops into my head with advice for staying out of hell and I’m reminded about how much I miss her. Except now, I eat at Torchy’s and I might even dance a little.

Torchy’s Tacos, Round Rock, Tx