“Hey girl, you take quiz three yet? Your bed looks so cozy behind you. But it would look better with me in it.”
Okay, so no one has ever said that to me. However, I have had my fair share of men slide into my Zoom direct messages in class. Yes, you read that right – slide into my Zoom dms.
Let me paint the picture for you: Wednesday afternoon calculus class. All of a sudden, I see a dm in the chat. It was a message from an unknown male classmate about the lip balm that I had just applied, “love Carmex, it’s the best for dry lips.” My one thought; He had to have been staring at my square on Zoom to tell that I applied Carmex, since it took me less than five seconds to put it on.
I was mindful of my nonverbals since I knew he would be watching for my reaction. I kept a cool face, but furrowed my brow a bit to show confusion from the message. While I was slightly taken aback in the moment – dare I say, bewildered – I decided to indulge him in a gentle response. I typed back, “haha, yeah! It’s the best.” He responded to me right away, “so what brings you to calc?” We had a conversation back-and-forth the whole class, but he seemed like a genuinely nice guy who shared my love of musical theater and Fleetwood Mac. Weeks went by, and his comments turned to things like how I was “even more beautiful than Stevie Nicks.” I slowly stopped responding to him, and he got the hint.
As I was reflecting on our ‘coincidental’ shared love for Broadway and Fleetwood Mac – it hit me. I have a Fleetwood album and a Hamilton playbill on the wall beside me. Those shared interests, combined with the love for Carmex lip balm, I am guessing were not so shared at all.
And this was not the last time this happened to me during Zoom University. If this has happened to me more than once, I am guessing it has happened to some of you. Not all the conversations turned the weird direction that the aforementioned one did, but it still rubs me the wrong way. I have only ever gotten messages of this kind from men online, and it’s just not okay. I am paying thousands of dollars for classes where I feel like I will get hit on if I turn my camera on. I am unengaged when my camera is off, but even more distracted when I receive notification after notification from a male suiter. Most of all, men can see into a private space of mine and use this to their advantage. They can watch me for over an hour without my knowledge.
People who do this don’t think of the consequences of their actions. All they think about is the chase or the selfishly-motivated end goal. I should not have to sacrifice an integral part of my online education to avoid creeps.
Is Zoom the new Tinder? If it is – I’m making the switch to WebEx.