By now, everyone with an internet connection has witnessed the potentially humiliating video of an attorney in Texas who was about to begin arguing a case via video chat. Using his assistant’s computer, he had activated a filter on the Zoom platform which had somehow turned him into a cat. As he was quick to point out, he was and still is not, in fact, a cat. If you’ve not seen this, click here (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/09/style/cat-lawyer-zoom.html). This is an abridged version of the video. In its entirety, Counselor Ponton repeatedly states that he is not a cat…as though we need to be reminded. I especially enjoyed watching the reaction of the gentleman at the top of the screen. You can see the proverbial lightbulb going on over his head as he realizes what’s happening.
Similarly, and nearly a year before, a boss had accidentally turned her own image into that of a potato during a Microsoft Teams meeting (https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/womans-boss-got-stuck-potato-195246868.html ). She could have been boiled about it, but took it all in stride and continued with her meeting. No sense in getting all fried up. To her entire team, I extend my tots and prayers. This spud’s for you.
Thanks…I’ll see myself out.
Internet technology has been a wonderful thing. It has brought us the ability to research our ancestors all the way back to ancient Brooklyn, share music (no matter how awful I find your tastes), source products from all over the globe, continue to network even when we’re all in a lockdown and, of course, share cat videos.
Whatever you do, do not search for “what happened to poor Jennifer."
Of course, another phenomenon of these Covidian times is the rise of the podcast. Everyone and their gender-neutral sibling seems to think that they have something valid to say, and that people are awaiting their next missives. It’s safe to say that you either have your own podcast or have been invited to participate on one. I’m not sure what’s worse: being invited onto a podcast and having nothing relevant to contribute, or not being invited at all.
A year ago, when we were all first trying to come to grips with the new normal, the Trophy Wife and I were facing the loss of her income, as she was an instructor at a junior college…a job which required in-person teaching. Thanks in no small part to her efforts, the college restructured their offerings, allowing for online training.
Most often, her courses are strictly virtual with audio only. On the rare occasion, she does have to do a video presentation, which requires more than just putting on her daytime pajamas. In these instances, one must be aware of what can be seen by the others on the chat. Rather than continue to offer a view of the bare wall behind her, I recently hung a framed poster she’d gotten for me in our previous home, that of the late Raul Julia as MacHeath (Mack the Knife, to you uncultured goons) from the musical “Three Penny Opera” (https://tinyurl.com/73878t8w). Now imagine having that brooding character looming in your view as you’re trying to comprehend pedagogy. Go ahead….I’ll wait while you look that up.
Video chat backgrounds have become a “thing," as viewers can get an insight into the real you by scanning the room or shelves behind you. The New York Times had an article about what’s been termed the “Credibility Bookcase” (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/01/arts/quarantine-bookcase-coronavirus.html), explaining the efforts that some people have made to dress up their background. Conversely, a BBC Wales news guest got universally embarrassed by what was seen on her shelves (sorry…I won’t share the link for that. Make an effort.). A certain elected official here in the States has gotten flak for her display full of weapons. Okay…weapons far different than those of the aforementioned guest on the Beeb.
As I have said so many times over the years: know your audience.
In the promotional products universe, it’s not difficult to dress the room with examples of your merchandise and/or past achievements. If we’re not viewing walls full of imprinted coffee mugs and desk accessories, you’re not doing this right.
Unless you sell patio umbrellas…they’ve gotta be harder to work into your office backdrop.
Thankfully, my video meetings have been few and far between. I did have to present a video audition for a comedic political news-reading job for which I’d applied shortly before last year’s election. Five months later, I think it’s safe to say I didn’t get the gig. Nevertheless, I think I spent more time preparing my office for my big moment than my presentation. What did I want people to see? What message…subliminal or otherwise…did I want to try to convey?
Here’s a brief sidebar: we moved into this house just over two years ago. I will politely say that it is a “work in progress”. As I believe I have mentioned in previous columns, my home office used to be the bedroom of a “tween” girl…complete with pink walls and purple carpet. Two years later, it still looks like that. Most of my awards, trophies, and plaques have yet to see the light of day. The few items of comfort which are on display primarily for my own enjoyment are Mets related. I do have one original piece of art hanging, that being a watercolor created by a certain then two-and-a-half year old, presented for Father’s Day 2020.
As such, I couldn’t decide what to have viewed by the people for whom I was auditioning. Ultimately, I went with copies of two books written by a friend of mine. One was “The Flamingo Rising”, which was later bastardized into an unfortunate TV movie that shared little resemblance to its source material (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0257679/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1), as well as its predecessor, “A Good Man”. They’re both excellent reads…I’d recommend you find them.
At any rate, I guess I went with those books hoping that the Hollywood cred of “The Flamingo Rising” would have gotten me some love in the audition process. Guess not, huh?
Maybe next time I’ll stick with the pink walls.