Opinion: Zoom Out, Or Screening Your Symposium

May 21, 2020

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With governments around the world getting involved in almost every aspect of our lives, from when we are allowed to exercise to what clothes to buy, it is somewhat disappointing that they have not legislated behavior on Zoom calls. And so, because I am an active and responsible citizen, I thought that it could be a grand idea to assist with some of the drafting.


Government Gazette Concerning Zoom Calls

  1. For the purpose of this document, “Zoom” call shall mean any on-line, virtual call, not limited to the Zoom technology but might include Teams, Google Chat, Crowdcast or any such environment that allows users to view each other while having a conversation. It does, however, specifically exclude Skype, as there is no person or persons who still engages on that platform.
  2. Zoom calls shall be limited to users below the age of 60. Should a person or persons over that age wish to operate a Zoom call, they will be required to have at least one person below the age of 40 (but not younger than 10) available to operate the mute or unmute button. That person will need to have full control of the “Leave Meeting“ option, and such control needs to be demonstrated at the outset of each individual call. Should the over-60 user prove that they are able to use both the mute as well as the Leave Meeting button unaided for three consecutive Zoom calls, written authorisation of competence can be provided to allow free usage of the platform. Said authorisation is renewable every two weeks but can be revoked at any time in the event of the user forwarding a fake news WhatsApp message.
  3. Mandatory Mute. The use of the mute button is critical to any call. Participants who are not actively engaged in speaking are obliged to mute their sound. Any pause longer than four seconds will be deemed to be “not speaking”. There can be no exception to this rule and failure to comply will result in a temporary ban from utilising the platform. Under no circumstance will angry spouses, crying children or the sound of hadedas in the background be acceptable unless the noise is heard from the speaker’s microphone. “Sorry, I thought I was on mute,” will not be accepted as justification.
  4. Cameras should be turned off unless the host request the camera to be turned on. Even then, a good rule of thumb is to turn the camera off unless you are engaged in speaking. Because the technology is designed to focus on the person making a sound, this further underscores the importance of the mute button. Please remember that while your sneeze might be adorable in the first 15 minutes in a blossoming relationship, the attractiveness is unlikely to endure longer than that, and will not appeal to anyone who does not want to spend the rest of their lives with you.
  5. No visible nostrils. Cameras need to be placed where participants have a view of either the front or the side of a person on the screen. Ceiling and nostril views are hereby deemed repulsive and strictly prohibited from the platform. If a participant is unaware that their nose hairs are on view to anyone in the world, they should not be operating a computer.
  6. The ANC, given the repeated porn bombing of their meetings, will wait for physical meetings before convening again. Their licence is hereby revoked.
  7. On exiting the meeting, participants are requested (but not obliged), to say one goodbye. A singular farewell will be deemed to apply and to registered by all participants. Studies have shown that saying goodbye five times does not increase the confidence that the participant is leaving the meeting. In fact, the opposite is true. Saying goodbye repeatedly, but never actually leaving the meeting, is like Zoom Brexit.

I am hopeful that the above will be seriously considered before parliament and that, ahead of allowing the wearing of open-toe shoes and sandals, these simple and effective suggestions will be passed into law.


Howard Feldman is Head of Marketing & People at Synthesis. Synthesis focuses on banking and financial institutions, retail, media and telecommunications sectors in South Africa and other emerging markets.

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