An Exhaustive (And Ridiculous) Field Guide To Zoom Users
Isolating during the coronavirus pandemic has been trying and disorientating (at the very least) for most of us. But amid the cabin fever and extreme unpleasantness, there have also been laughs. That’s the nice thing about the human spirit when we’re all in it together – if you look for a lol, you can eventually find one, no matter how dire the situation or how glum you feel. So, it’s handy that Zoom and Houseparty were seemingly invented for this moment in time because both result in wonderful absurdities. Or rather these two – to many of us new – applications are the perfect showcase for our own eccentricities and innate ridiculousness. It’s like being on live TV, but with only your pals watching.
We’re in the mood for a laugh at MR PORTER today, so after much deliberation we bring you an exhaustive list of all the people you will meet on Houseparty. If you think we have missed a particular type, please let us know.
01. The person who can’t quite angle the webcam
“Oh, lord!” That’s usually the first thing that escapes our mouth when the person who can’t quite angle the webcam staggers into view, like a gran who’s been drinking brandy. The second thing is usually something along the lines of “Fred/Janine! Jeez! Blow your nose!” You can’t blame Fred or Janine for this close encounter of a nasal kind, though. Just try using the front cam on your phone and not end up looking like a sausage with a face drawn on. Even our celebrity overlords are having a tough time of it: Mr Matthew McConaughey looked like Mrs Doubtfire when he hosted Zoom bingo for Texan over-sixties, so we should cut mere mortals some slack. And besides, it wasn’t long ago that most of us got anxious about taking a phone call, let alone getting a close-up during a 12-man online quiz.
02. The happy loafer
The loafer is a man of habit. He knows what he likes and likes what he knows, beds and sofas mainly. The distance between the two is about the range of his daily state-sanctioned exercise. With, naturally, occasional stops at the fridge to refuel on Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and premium lager, both of which he, of course, got delivered to his door. After all, he is saving his calories in case he has to go fetch his Mac charger from the other room. This umbilical attachment to soft furnishing has led to certain undeniable achievements, though – he has “completed” Netflix, put on eight pounds and totally forgotten his former life of working 12-hour days on Wall Street. He is the happiest he has ever been since college – and we’re pretty happy for him, too.
03. The home-gymer
A little thing like all the gyms being closed isn’t going to stop these guys maintaining their shapely glutei maximi. No, sir. They might not have all the equipment of, say, Barry’s Bootcamp, but they do have a broom handle, a Patagonia backpack they filled with sand and a girlfriend who is more than willing to shout at them for three quarters of an hour. It might be a little tiring to hear their constant injunctions to dragoon pot plants, ironing boards and anything else that is heavy and not fastened down into your “home routine”, but they’ll probably have the last laugh when they emerge with washboard abs and pecs that can dance. Just don’t let them DM you their discount code for gym gear. Just say no, kids.
04. The pandemic Picasso
Hmmm, what’s this – has their brow grown more sensitive? Their lips a little more sensuous? Is that, errrr, a silk robe they are wearing at 3.00pm? Yes, folks, your friend has become a pandemic Mr Pablo Picasso. Their previous association with the arts might have begun and ended with the free white wine at Frieze, but things change – man, people change. Now they have drawn deep of the creative well and done half a dozen portraits of a half-eaten satsuma. And, oh, they want to paint your portrait? Oh right, it will only require five to six hours in front of a webcam? That’s very, very generous, but I think we might have an appointment with a sand-filled backpack at that time.
05. The striver
They read that tweet from that guy who used to work on a submarine and have gone from moderate-achiever to Mr Gary Kasparov in the time it took the rest of us to figure out how to use Disney+. Submarine Man recommends a timetable of bettering activities. And lo, the striver has dug out his Spanish textbook from university and committed to reading all of Don Quixote before next week’s online book club. They are thinking of branching out to Finnish, too, and maybe listening to the whole Ring cycle and yes, they do really, really, want to send you some book suggestions. Striving, like inspecting your pores, is something best done quietly, in private – or that is usually the case. But in this case, we may give them a free pass. If learning to say “Hei mitä kuuluu?” (“Hi, how are you?” in Finnish) keeps their mind off things, then we say: jatka (carry on).
06. The socialite
They glide across the borders of Zoom, Skype and Houseparty with the sleek impunity of a billionaire on a private jet. Sustained only by Berry Bros Wine deliveries and teeny-tiny little chunks of cheese that they can swallow, whole, while leaning just out of shot. They always seem to be dressed in Prada, have taken to smoking so much you wonder if they are doing it just to keep warm, and drink champagne from noon till night (“I’m doing my bit for the economy, darling”). They frequently tell you that it will take more than a pandemic to stop them having fun, though they scrupulously respect the lockdown, of course. And it is hard not to admire their Queen Mother-like commitment to amusing themselves. When this is over, they will emerge well-coiffed and glossy, like an expensive butterfly who has just finished a nap.
07. The person who knows their lighting
The world’s a stage and these guys like to be at its centre, ideally fully made up. As the rest of us scramble around our apartments trying to find a backdrop that makes us look worldly and sophisticated, rather than messy and lazy, these guys have a makeshift lighting rig and three full-look Loro Piana outfits from which to choose. This may seem, on the surface, a little vain, a touch excessive. But then you quickly understand these guys were once the person who can’t quite angle the webcam – they, too, once suffered the indignity of revealing their double chin to friends and made a silent pact between themselves and God that it would never happen again. Go in peace, my friend.
Illustrations by Ms Elena Xausa