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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

Although we are coming up on almost a full year of incorporating Zoom into our learning experience, I still find myself struggling with it. Sometimes, it feels like a single Zoom meeting interrupts the whole flow of your day, which is especially frustrating during a busy semester of schoolwork. Zoom creates an isolating environment for students, as it often does not feel like we are in a school meeting. Classes feel more akin to FaceTime than a professional, work environment.

Zoom is not all bad, though. It is still an extremely beneficial tool that facilitates safe learning in untraditional times.

But, this change in classroom locations creates a whole new collection of school anxieties. In a study conducted with people who use Zoom daily, 73% of the respondents claimed that they have anxiety whenever they join a Zoom meeting. In a normal classroom or an in-person work meeting, we may still feel nervous — but not for the same reasons.

Zoom creates an unnatural environment for many, as it feels like there is more pressure to perform for your peers. This idea of having to act performatively for your class makes students less likely to have a casual conversation because they might feel the need to have a complete idea before joining the discussion.

If you have your camera on, you also might be nervous about how others are perceiving your background and your appearance. Sometimes, when the gallery mode is on, it feels like everyone’s eyes are glued to your rectangle. This fear prevents many people from participating, as many do not want to draw any unnecessary attention toward themselves in class.

If you do not have your camera on and are not actively joining the discussion, then you might feel like you are not getting a lot out of your school experience. It is difficult to find a balance between exposing your personal life to strangers and remaining mute in the corner of the screen. Something else I have noticed is that many people feel anxious about the possibility of technical issues happening while in class. Multiple times throughout my classes, I find myself making sure that I am still on mute out of fear Zoom has magically unmuted me. These somewhat irrational fears combined with the real connection issues one can have work to create a distracting situation, as you are not able to focus on the class material.

Even if you can push yourself past all of these performance anxieties, it is more difficult to get your point across when the other participants cannot see your full body. Research published in Psychology Today shows that 85% of our communication with other people is done through body language, which is very difficult to show over a small camera. In-person conversations will typically include hand motions or facial cues that allow us to recognize more of the subtleties in a discussion. This makes it even harder for students to stay on track with the course material and easier to get lost or confused due to a communicative misunderstanding.

Although it is difficult and feels very uncomfortable, the best way to get over Zoom anxiety is to just jump into the deep end and begin practicing active learning and using the technology to your advantage.

If you have fears over showing your background, then maybe it would help you to select one of the backdrops included in Zoom to give yourself some more privacy. Start with turning your camera on for portions of the class until you feel comfortable with having it on the whole time. If you struggle with the discussion aspect of Zoom, maybe try to utilize the chat box to still participate. Most of your classmates will probably not dwell on your commentary, so do not place too much pressure on yourself. A class can be nerve-wracking no matter where you are located, but it is important to take charge of your education.

Minna is an English major at the University of Florida. She is a features editor for Her Campus UFL.