With schools across the country beginning virtual classes this week, videoconferencing platform Zoom had an unexpected gift for all the schoolchildren in the form of a lengthy outage that affected the ability to conduct meetings and webinars. The outage affected North America and some parts of Europe.
Once people realized what was happening, guess what they did? That’s right, they took to Twitter to meme the shit out of the situation. I saw many people referring to it as a digital snow day, but as someone who grew up in New England (shakes old lady fist) and experienced many a welcome school day cancellation because of snow, I think a better analogy is the fire drill: a temporary disruption that screws up the rest of the day, but you still have to go back to class afterward.
Zoom became the go-to videoconferencing platform during the pandemic, with schools, businesses, digital clubs, and weddings relying on it to communicate. It’s had its share of privacy and security issues (see: Zoombombing) and has several rival services nipping at its heels. But its free, 40-minute option is easy to use, and almost everyone has. That includes hundreds of schools opting not to have children return to physical classrooms amid wariness about the coronavirus.
I wish I could advise today’s students about what to do when Zoom finally comes back online to keep from having to do actual work, but the stalling tactics of my day (ask for a film strip! Say you don’t have your textbook! Ask if you can have class outside!) will sadly not work in a virtual classroom. And in all seriousness, sympathy for all the parents at home trying to work who thought they would get a slight reprieve with Zoom classes today. Hang in there.
As of 1PM ET on Monday, Zoom said meeting and webinars had been restored for most users. Boo. I mean, thank goodness we can now attend our weekly staff meeting.