Author Whitney Mccoy poses for a photo in Zoom. | Photo by Whitney Mccoy.

Learning on camera increases social anxieties

Students examine their whys in regard to whether or not they prefer Zoom cameras on or off

For the past year now, we’ve seen hundreds of memes and TikTok videos poking fun at the bizarreness of having our cameras on for Zoom meetings and class times. Undeniably, there is a very personal aspect to our camera that makes individuals feel uncomfortable. Or maybe, for some, a little rebellious.

You know, if you’re one of the many who show up with a button up shirt on top and sweats on the bottom. Or maybe you’re not wearing pants at all? I think we can agree weirder things have happened at this point.

Raven Linton, a public relations major, says she doesn’t feel intimidated by the camera. However, whether or not she turns her camera on or not depends on how presentable she feels.

“I typically have it off because I’m usually in my pajamas,” Linton said. “It definitely feels different. However, I actually kind of like the fact that some of the online classes have this because I’m a visual learner, and to me, it feels the same in a sense of getting an ‘in-person’ lecture.”

Though Linton feels rather comfortable either way, it’s obvious some students get anxious more than others and whether or not you’ll experience it or not is hard to say.

Kimberly Cossio, an environmental studies major, says she prefers to have her camera off for mostly privacy reasons. Noting a lot of the time she is doing other things like cooking or getting ready for work. She adds that for herself, Zoom can get slightly uncomfortable opposed to in-person.

“It is very different to have a camera on you at all times and it can get pretty uncomfortable, just knowing that everyone in the class can see you, rather than being in class when everyone’s focus is on the professor,” Cossio said. “Most times in in-person classes you can’t see other students’ faces but only their backside and so there is a significant difference.”

Delaney Duarte, a journalism major with a minor in communication studies says she prefers to have in-person sessions because she likes feeling like she has a place to go and enjoys being able to get dressed up, go out and not just be in her pajamas for class, which is why she says she keeps her camera turned off most days.

“I tend to have my camera off,” Duarte said. “Sometimes I like having my camera on if I’m put together. I personally don’t get anxious though, that’s not really me. I don’t really get nervous on camera.”

Duarte attests that keeping her camera on or off doesn’t have much to do with shyness, nerves or anxiety. Yet, she understands that other students may be experiencing this.

“I know a lot of students get anxious though so I’m not saying everyone is like me,” Duarte said. “But I do know a lot of students don’t want people seeing their background and where they’re at. It’s your personal space and you’re showing it to everyone so they might be anxious with that.”

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