Turning cameras off offers a taste of freedom

Elizabeth Yan, Editorial Board Member

Is my hair messy? Do I look good enough to be on camera? What if I have to get up? Turning your camera on during an online Zoom class is much more nerve-wracking than one would expect. 

I’ve never been one to get ready for school meticulously like some others I know who spend hours adjusting their appearance, but for some reason, being able to see myself on a screen during class makes everything completely different. I guess it must be the fact that I can actually see myself instead of being ignorant as to how I look.

One unruly tuft of hair, one single twisted strap, even a minuscule stain on my shirt that only an ant could spot sends an anxious chill through me. My mind cannot focus on schoolwork until I’ve located the “turn off video” button and given it a good press. Much better. 

Not only does having my camera turned off prevent me from fussing over my imperfect image, but it also gives me a small amount of freedom to eat a snack or pull a blanket around myself in the cold, harsh fall mornings. My idea of a flawless online school outfit? Sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and a soft quilt wrapped around my shoulders.

Of course, with the proposition that having one’s camera off is superior comes a pained cry from our teachers. Imagine how somber and dull it must be, teaching to thirty-something blank rectangles, unable to distinguish a sleeping student from one frantically taking notes. 

I’m not saying that everyone should always turn their cameras off 24/7, never showing even a sliver of their faces to the hardworking teachers, but from time to time, all students need a break from the menacing and judgmental stare of the video camera. A bad hair day or just a bad day, in general, should be enough of a reason to waive one’s video. As teenagers, we are constantly worrying about our appearance and trying our best to impress everyone around us. I think we deserve a break every once in a while.