With many Zoom lectures being recorded and the false sense of privacy that comes with attending class and working in one’s own home, many people have committed egregious errors while participating in virtual meetings.
1. Attorney stuck as a kitten in court.
In February, lawyer Rod Ponton entered a court hearing on his secretary’s computer. To his horror, he was trapped in a kitten filter. “I’m not a cat,” Ponton clarified for the court. Judge Roy Ferguson of Texas’ 394th judicial district responded, “I can see that.” Although this situation was comical, the actual context of the case was quite serious: Ponton was representing the state of Texas in a case involving a person attempting to flee the U.S. with contraband and illegally obtained cash. This hilarious instance reminds everyone to check their camera screen before entering important meetings.
2. Pink penis sculpture appears in BBC news segment.
On Jan. 26, BBC viewers got more than they bargained for when they tuned into a segment about job struggles in the pandemic. Yvette Amos, the interviewee, had left her dildo on the bookshelf behind her, and many were quick to take to social media to comment on it. One user stated “Yvette Amos, national hero. She knows a bookcase isn’t just for decoration. When in need, we all turn to our bookcases.” Amos’ mistake was our comedic gain and served as a good reminder to check our surroundings before turning on our camera.
3. Students send “private” chats in virtual classrooms.
While this crisis isn’t unique to one student or instance, the discovery that chats are not so private was a shocking reality for many. At the beginning of the pandemic, Faith Bryant learned this the hard way when her professor sent her an email stating, “My class session is not the appropriate time to be sending messages like ‘I’m a bougie a**, ratchet a**, freak b****…’” While Bryant certainly wasn’t the only student to experience this, she did teach an entire generation of college students to watch what they send on video conferencing apps.
4. Woman resigns after using the toilet on Zoom.
Frances Cogelja, a trustee of the board of education in Hackensack, New Jersey, resigned in November of 2020, shortly after using the restroom on Zoom without turning off her camera. The meeting’s participants, including the students present, all got a clear view of Cogelja using the toilet. After Cogelja finished, the board’s vice president Scott James-Vickery addressed the lewd behavior. “As far as I’m concerned, while our teachers are being professional, and you’re at home sitting on the toilet.”
5. “The New Yorker” suspends Jeff Toobin for masturbating in a meeting.
Last October, reporter Jeff Toobin was caught masturbating on camera during an election simulation. This meeting featured journalist Jane Mayer as establishment Republicans; Evan Osnos as Joe Biden, Toobin as the courts and Masha Gessen as Donald Trump, amongst others. Toobin, who thought he was off-camera, was clearly seen jerking off. He later released a statement, saying “I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers.” This should go unsaid, but it’s important to refrain from “self-pleasure” when in the middle of a video call. Some things can definitely wait.
With stories like these, I’m grateful to be returning to in-person classes in the fall. In the meantime, we’ll all just have to stay vigilant with our mic-muting and camera-sharing.