Real Talk: what your Zoom background says about you

Welcome to a new hundo column from our resident OG, Gary Ogden

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Zoom, eh? Used to be a thing that you did when you ran really fast, but now it’s a thing you do when you sit really still. Thankfully, everyone’s in the same boat, so we’ve all just had to put up with it, or shut up with it.

As such, you’ve probably had at least one Zoom call recently, perhaps even two – you might even call yourself a ‘Zoom expert’, a‘ Zoom scientist’, ‘The Archbishop of Zoomterbury’. You’re a master of prep - your hair’s combed nicely, you’ve practised your posh online voice and your laptop’s at a really high angle so nobody can see all the hair you’ve been growing on your neck in lockdown. But what about your background? What’s going on there? Considering that approximately 4 minutes into any Zoom meeting, every single participant will lose interest and start examining everyone’s rooms, it might be the most important part.

So whether you’re mumbling through your Monday morning meeting, shaking through a presentation, or flailing blindly through an interview, here’s what your Zoom background says about you:

REAL LIFE

Your bedroom

This is fine, as long as your bedroom is tidy (and you’re at a desk, not on/in your bed). Because if your bed isn’t made, then sorry, you may as well be sitting in front of a steaming pile of dead cows – this is the impression you will be giving off. Aside from that, just make sure there isn’t anything weird in there – no ‘accidentally forgetting to take the fluffy handcuffs off your bedrail’ type shenanigans please. And a plant wouldn’t go amiss (helps people get the impression that life can survive in close proximity to you).

The kitchen

This is only really for people who have massive kitchens – it’s for big fancy show-offs that own air-fryers, basically. It’s fine, but if nobody asks you about your new titanium cafetière, don’t get in a big huff about it.

The living room

This is pretty normal, and has the bonus effect of showing everyone that you actually got out of bed and (most likely) had a shower. Again, same rules apply – just make sure it’s all tidy and that you haven’t, you know, forgotten to take the fluffy handcuffs off your lamp or something.

The bathroom

If you’re going to do your Zoom call from the shower, AT LEAST wear a suit while you do it.

ADDITIONAL ACCESSORIES

Books

This is good. People that read books are clever. You want people to think you are clever. Put books everywhere, all the time, forever.

Leave ‘The Game’ in that weird shoebox under your bed with all your other ‘literature’, though.

DVDs

Fine and not outwardly concerning, but here’s a tip – all DVDs are worthless now. When was the last time you watched a DVD? They say you’re never more than 5 metres away from a CEX, so take advantage of this close proximity and sell them. Think of all the books you could buy and never read, but put on shelves.

Art

Also good – look how cultured you are. Make sure you know the artist though because if someone asks you who it’s by and you don’t know, you might as well be sitting in front of a framed picture of you in a dunce hat. Oh, and a black and white photograph of New York ‘but all the taxis are yellow’? Doesn’t count.

A blank wall

Bit prison cell, but also not very distracting. Depends if you want everyone to focus on that massive spot you’ve got on your nose or all those books you’ve got everywhere. So many books. A genius, you must be. A book genius.

FAKE LIFE

In Zoom you can put whatever fake background you like, if for example, you don’t want everyone to see the steaming pile of dead cows in your bedroom. The possibilities are endless:

The beach

You love to travel and you’ve been to all the hotspots – the Seychelles, Thailand, Magaluf. Might make people that little bit happier, seeing a lovely beach and looking forward to being there eventually. Could also make them incensed with jealous and hatred. It’s all a roll of the dice.

A pub

Maybe not so great if you’re having an interview, but for Friday after-work virtual drinks with Bogsy, Jogsy and Throbsy, it’s perfectly fine. Also lets people know that you’re An Actual Bonafied Laugh, too, which is nice.

A house that is not yours

Nobody will be fooled into thinking that a fake background is a real one, so don’t try and pass off a fancy picture you found of some house from Grand Designs. They’ll see the wobbly lines around your head and your bad special effects will be revealed to the world. You are the Green Lantern movie of Zoom calls.

A blurred background

Don’t do this as it arouses extreme suspicion immediately. What are you hiding? How bad must your house be? How easy is it to look after one plant? Just one? All you needed to do was keep one poxy Eucalyptus alive, and it’s died. And now you’ve had to make your background blurry because everyone was 100% right about you.

CAMERA OFF

YOU ARE A MYSTERIOUS LEGEND.

@GaryOgden

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