Zooming with Zara: Camera Anxiety


Zara Denison

Zara Denison demonstrates her different moods when it comes to Zoom classes.

This past homeroom class, teachers spoke to students about proper email etiquette, other things I don’t remember, and most relevant to me: the ongoing issue of students keeping their cameras off. So, I thought I would experiment. I kept my camera on during the classes where I usually leave my camera off and the results were…interesting.

First period: Latin. This class only has 15 students and usually, only one person turns on their camera, a true Zoom hero. I was nervous to turn on my camera because it was nine in the morning and I resembled a rat very closely, but I thought it could be fun. After turning on my camera my teacher immediately greeted me and thanked me for being “present.” Then, he asked me if this was the only time I had ever been awake for the class, truly exposing me. Then something amazing happened: three more students joined me in having their cameras on. We all talked and enjoyed each other’s company in a way that we hadn’t all year, which was exciting.

It took a lot of guts for me to follow through with this experiment during my next class. My AP Psychology class is just short of 30 people, and I don’t know any of the other students well. Naturally, I was nervous to put myself out there. Alas, I turned my camera on. Just like my last class, more people followed, and the teacher was visibly happier. Whether it was me who prompted these students to show some face, or maybe it was some external force, I couldn’t care less; the class became much more enjoyable.

However, not all of my experiences went as smoothly as these two did. In one of my other classes, there is a fair share of students who keep their cameras on. At the start of class I joined and turned my camera on, yet for the first time in weeks, nobody else was on camera. Not knowing what to do, I just stared at my teacher in silence, while she also appeared to be staring at me in silence.

In this same class, I ended up forgetting I even left my camera on, which only led to more embarrassing moments. while reading documents and doing work, one of my friends in the class texted me and asked why I was so close to the camera. Do you know that sinking feeling you get in your stomach? That was me when I switched tabs and returned to Zoom and saw my nose staring back at me.

While I had some mishaps throughout my camera-on experiment, I would say it was worth it and something you all should try. If not for the sake of your teachers, do it for your own entertainment. It was funny to see people reacting to me actually showing up and I was able to communicate with teachers much easier.