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Love It: Fake it till you make it — Tina Chen

Zoom convenience has really hit these days, especially when I can roll out of bed 5 minutes before class, or even attend lectures from the comfort of my bed. But thanks to a magical combination of Zoom’s “touch up my appearance” feature and a specially selected virtual background, I can at least pretend that my life is not that big of a mess. There’s no need to worry that someone will see the state of my blanket and piece together that I had just woken up. All there is to be concerned about is that pset due in 24 hours that I have yet to even look at…

Let’s face it, ever since the pandemic started, we’ve all developed our coping mechanisms, from spending hours making whipped coffee to developing a plant collection. Now that we’re back on a school schedule, Zoom backgrounds have added some much needed spice to the mundane routine of online classes. Sure, you can show off your room in your Zoom call, but you can also pretend you’re on a tropical island with the wind blowing through your hair. You decide which is better. They also have potential to be great conversation starters, whether it be a classmate or even your professor inquiring about your video background of yourself walking past the camera. Best of all, the possibilities are endless! Check out some of Flyby’s suggestions for best Zoom backgrounds for your next class!

Hate It: You lost me at “virtual” — Matylda A. Urbaniak

As much as I love attending class from the comfort of my dorm (Goodbye, running across the Yard in the cold!) it’s true that it’s much harder to learn about… the boa programming language? The cobra language? The snake language? (Wait, no, it’s definitely not a finance thing…) In CS50 than it normally would be. Who can resist the allure of scrolling through TikTok, or even better, Flyby, all day? Enter the Zoom camera feature: now you can see all of your classmates, just like in real school! But wait! Why is your professor’s head coming off of his body? Why is your screen being assaulted with a gif of Among Us spacemen behind someone at 9 am???? The ugly truth is that Zoom backgrounds leave you even more confuzzled than after taking your midterm (if your midterm wasn’t canceled under mysterious circumstances and replaced by a problem set, that is), and who needs that?

Also, in a semester where we’ve all been looking for excuses to slide into the zoom DMs of the cutie in our section, what better way to ~subtly~ make yourself seem really cool? Did your crush just mention that they want to go to Mexico? Boom, put a physical Mexican flag on your wall! Not only will they think that you’re cool, they’ll probably also slide into your DMs (or so I’ve been told. If the kid from my Math 1b section is reading this, help me out here! Dinner by the river on Friday, babe?) Overhear them say something about Avatar in your breakout room? Get a poster of those funky blue people in your background! They were definitely referring to that movie, right? Nobody will call you out for making a fool out of yourself, and you just might catch the eye of that special someone. Or, you know, you could just talk to them, but not all of us are that heroic.