How could people be this oblivious?

I, like so many people, have become used to using videoconferencing. This recent cover of a New Yorker magazine captured how someone can use the limited frame of the Zoom window to show oneself to best effect with the least effort.

The January 2021 issue of Harper’s Magazine had the following item that astounded me about what people were observed doing during work Zoom video calls.

From behaviors engaged in by politicians and other government employees around the world during virtual meetings last year.

Removed her shirt and bra during a meeting with her political party, the national bank, and the press about the impact of the novel coronavirus

Pulled down his partner’s shirt and kissed her breast during a congressional session on social security

Took a shower during a meeting with the president about the impact of the pandemic on the economy

Had sex with the town treasurer during a meeting with regional government officials about combating the spread of the coronavirus

Lay down on a bed in the room and had sex during a city-council meeting about how to feed schoolchildren during the pandemic

Drank a beer, introduced his pet cat to other officials, and threw the cat across the room during a meeting on social distancing

I have seen other stories about people not wearing pants or something similar. What I don’t understand is that when you are on a Zoom video call, you can see what others see of you. How could these people not realize that others could see what was on their screen?

I have been on Zoom calls with some friends or relatives where their window shows just the top of their heads and you have to point out to them that they need to lower the camera angle. Why they cannot see this without prompting baffles me.


  1. flex says

    I can answer one of your questions…

    Why do people on zoom calls seem to be unable to adjust the camera to show their faces properly?
    Because they don’t know where the camera is.

    Without knowing that the camera is the little dot above the laptop screen, they think the screen itself is the camera. They are unable to figure out how to adjust it, since the whole screen is pointing directly at them.

    We had the same problem with my parents. Eventually I went over to their house and showed them where the camera was located. Now that they know where the camera is, they can adjust it to show their faces. Before I showed them the location of the camera, they would take the advice to move the laptop screen, but they didn’t know why that worked. Luckily we live within walking distance.

  2. mnb0 says

    “Because they don’t know where the camera is.”
    Neither do I. But I do see myself on the screen and hence can adjust it.

  3. Steve Cameron says

    Regarding that New Yorker cover, I work for regional TV news and that’s kind of how our news set looks {though less cats, more cables and ugly equipment). Our anchor routinely wears slippers or winter boots because you never see below her knees.

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