Online learning encourages students to adapt appearances

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Graphic by Sabrina Bergeron

Sabrina Bergeron

As we have all been spending our days in quarantine lazing around and wearing nothing but our coziest sweatpants, it’s hard to imagine that we would change anything about our appearances when the new school year rolled around. 

As sophomore Eimear Debhaile put it, “Oftentimes I don’t even change out of my pajamas.” Apparently, staying at home has dropped our motivation to wear anything but the comfiest articles of clothing we own. Junior Priya Tang agrees, “I’ve definitely changed what I’m wearing to more comfier, casual clothing.”

Besides wearing their favorite casual attire, students tend to spend less time getting ready in the morning for virtual school than they would for in-person learning. Freshman August Taylor explained that he only wakes up on the early side to eat breakfast as there is no getting-ready time needed. “I do wake up at 8:30 AM but that’s mainly just to eat breakfast.”

Debhaile explained that ever since online learning began, she doesn’t bother spending any more than five minutes in the morning. “I wake up at like 9:30, grab my laptop off the floor; by 9:35, I’m in class, still in bed.” Even I myself can relate, as everyday presents such a struggle to get up, now that the motivation to get to school on time no longer exists. Indeed, quarantine seems to encourage a lack of concentration and thus productivity levels fall through the floor.

Additionally, students had not spent much time thinking about what background they used when on video. Oftentimes, students chose desk areas because they thought it was a no-brainer, and easier to work, not caring what showed behind them; however, some prefer to grind on their homework sitting on their beds, maximizing comfort, except when they do- they conceal their physical backgrounds using the feature on Microsoft Teams, (i.e. blurring it or placing a scenic photo behind them).

 Tang explained, “I just work at my desk and sometimes if I’m like really lazy I’ll be in bed…I just…conceal my background.” Taylor concurred, “No, I didn’t really think that much…the background kind of just worked out.”

So what would make a good video background? Would it be good lighting? Or something eye-catching placed behind you? Tang shared her thoughts. “Ideally, it would be good lighting, although I don’t really put that much thought into that.” However, Debhaile, having been thinking about the backdrop to her studying place, said something different. “I actually switched it so that there’s just a view of my window. I don’t really want everyone to see my entire room.” In summary, it is truly a personal preference considering how much of your house you’re willing to show.

It can feel counterproductive to put any extra thought into what we look like or how we present ourselves on screen, because why dress up to do nothing? It’s not to say that we don’t want to spice up our cyclical lives, but at the end of the day, comfort seems to win over style in that regard.