Satire: Students find new strategies to feign attentiveness on Zoom
Multitasking meal prep, fake Zoom backgrounds among schemes
The following piece is satire and should not be misconstrued for actual reporting. Any resemblance to a student, staff or faculty member is coincidental.
In the wake of yet another stint of virtual classes, American University students found their attention spans waning. Visions of warm, comfortable beds taunt students in the corner of a Zoom box; open tabs beg a brief perusal in the middle of an 8:10 a.m. block. While some students succumb to temptations unabashedly, others get creative.
Finding the drab of online school simply too much to bear, Peter Jarvis, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore, enlisted the help of a friend.
“My friend Jamal is a photographer, and I figured he could help me here,” Jarvis said. “We got some ring lights, I put on a sleek button-down top, and we got some great shots of me looking inquisitively at the camera. If I make them my Zoom profile picture, I think I can sleep through my Econ class and no one will notice.”
While Jarvis reported the relative success of his strategy, Jamal McNeil, who is also a student in the previously mentioned ECON-100 class, reported the picture has become an issue.
“He’s maybe a little too engaged? Like we are all completing independent work, and ‘Peter’ won’t stop staring directly into the camera,” McNeil said. “Professor Bennett seems especially concerned.”
Rebecca Hume, a School of International Service senior, found herself able to stay awake but struggling to take notes.
“I really want it to seem like I’m taking notes, so I decided to start preparing some kabobs during my 9:45 a.m. class,” she said. “I also bought a Foreman grill to cook them during my 11:20 a.m.” She claimed the strategy was flawless. “Turns out chopping vegetables looks remarkably similar to furiously typing.”
Unlike her peers, Rose Hussain, a first-year CLEG major, employed fear tactics: “I like to write out my most daunting tasks and put them on a post-it next to my camera. Whenever I want to drift off, I see the list, often let out some sort of animalistic scream, and then I’m as awake as ever. Turns out, the adrenaline of a jump scare works wonders for a girl.”
This semester, AU plans to return to in-person learning at the end of January. In the meantime, the vast majority of students are struggling with academic stamina — but the best and brightest know just how to hide it.
Nora Sullivan is a junior in the School of International Service and a satire columnist at The Eagle.