Welcome to the world of Zoom
with countless ears and eyes.
Invite Zoom to your living room?
It may come in disguise.
Zoom hides in bombs, it’s learned to troll,
which is against the rules.
Zoom posts hate speech (it thinks that's droll)
at synagogues and schools.
Zoombombing (says the FBI)
is now the latest kick
for crazies they identify
as flat-out, truly sick.
So if you Zoom your Seder . . .
well, invite just friends and kin.
And if Elijah rings your bell . . .
is it safe to let him in?
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been part of several Zoom meetings. But only a few days ago did I learn about Zoombombing — where intruders find links to video worship services, classes, A.A. meetings, baby showers — even a Ph.D dissertation --
on which they post racial slurs and porn. According to NPR, since the Corona Virus forced folks to stay in their homes, Zoom has become wildly popular.
Wildly? No kidding. The company claims 200 million people used the app on a daily basis in March, up from just 10 million in December. Thus Eric Yuan, Zoom’s creator,
is faced with a massive nut-case challenge. “We didn’t design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home,” Yuan whined. “The entire Zoom engineering team will now pivot to working on safety and security.”
Call it Yuan doing a Zuckerberg.
Meanwhile, this social distancing thingie can tap into either our inner grouch or our inner child. If it’s the latter, then Zoom is our collective favorite babysitter, texting on her phone while we get into mischief. Like, why do homework in our bedrooms when Zoom’s Virtual Backgrounds let us us study on the moon or in Homer Simpson’s house?
Take yesterday. At our Zoom Shabbat services, one couple swapped their real kitchen for a backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge. Another duo left their comfy den and plopped themselves down somewhere in what looked like arid Israel. Another fellah (who I know was in Minnesota) seemed to be davening in a Costa Rican rainforest. Zoom Virtual Backgrounds. An innocent enough escape mechanism, when you’ve been stuck at home, in the same rooms, with the same person, eating the same boring leftovers for an eternity forever and always plus you desperately need a haircut and pedicure. (Oh, shut up, inner grouch.)
For now, I’ll forgo a background that lets me escape my messy digs for Number 10 Downing Street, and continue hanging out (most often) in that black Zoom square with just my name on it and the video turned off. (I mean, who wants to see me in my PJs chomping double stuff Oreos during Musaf?) I may, however, succumb to the Zoom Touch Up My Appearance filter that the website promises will minimize wrinkles so I look younger than the Crone I am during our across-the-miles family Seder this Wednesday. Also, should I care to look particularly awesome to my kids and grandkids while slurping my soup, I’ll consider this online tip. “Everybody knows how to take a selfie, dude. You want to shoot from above, not looking up your nose.” Right.
So, enough of plagues and being stuck in tight quarters.
Next year, if not in Jerusalem, may we please please please be free to gather ‘round our honest-to-goodness tables with the people we love. Everyone whole and healthy and here for the hugging.