Student Life

What your Zoom background says about you

Decorating comes with added stress this school year, as Zoom University often allows classmates a glimpse into your home. If you are obligated to turn your camera on in class, trying to score extra face time with your professors, or wanting to show off your new pair of blue-light glasses, you may find yourself curating your background to please the audience. The McGill Tribune has compiled a non-exhaustive list of possible backgrounds and how they reflect your personality. 

Blank wall

A blank wall is the perfect blank slate for office hours with your professors, job interviews, or meetings. Showing a blank wall allows other people to project any assumptions about you, for better or for worse. It can leave them thinking you are professional and put together, or wondering if you just haven’t had the time to decorate at all. Perhaps, you’re embarking upon a minimalist, waste-free lifestyle. The blank wall is an overall crowd-pleaser because it isn’t distracting, although definitely better if used sparingly.


A door background is gutsy, but not too gutsy. There is a barrier between your meeting and the chaos of your home, but the barrier can be broken down at any moment by a cohabitor who forgot you were going to be on a call. Putting your door directly in the background screams: “This is the plainest surface in my room.” Your fellow classmates will love placing bets on how long it will be before someone inevitably walks in and gets all wide-eyed when they realize that they’re interrupting your highly important video chat.


Politicians, public figures, and even some professors have their bookshelves as their backgrounds. You are none of those things. Bookshelves are the perfect background for the pseudo-intellectual in your tutorial who tells the professor how the difficulty level was perfect for the assignment that you desperately struggled on. Be better than that. 

Decorated wall

The curated photo collage on your wall is great to flaunt in specific classes. For your art history class, show off the $7 Matisse print you got at the poster sale. Displaying nature posters in an environment class might just make you a friend when someone slides into your private messages in the Zoom chat to compliment your decor. Exhibiting your taste in posters or artwork has become the newest form of self expression now that no one can flaunt their latest fits on campus. 

Whole bedroom

Showing off your whole bedroom in the background is the ultimate flex. Really, only the people who truly have their lives together can manage to keep their rooms immaculate enough to do this. It’s the perfect way to intimidate your classmates while impressing your professors. All your snoopy peers want you to know that the fairy lights above your bed look cute, and that they complement the hanging planters really well!

Outdoor area

You’re either one with nature or you’re just sitting on your balcony. Either way, good on you for trying to get that vitamin D. In all seriousness, sometimes you really cannot do Zoom calls from inside your home, and outside is a great alternative. Everyone in the southern hemisphere should join calls from outside, so the rest of us in Montreal can experience the nice weather vicariously through you. Many thanks in advance.

Green screen effect

You’re fake, but at least you’re embracing it. Everyone knows you’re not actually in an 18th century-style study, but if that’s what you need to believe to get through the day, then go ahead. Green screen people rule the Zoom chats along with whole bedroom people, so thanks for asking the clarifying questions, but kindly pipe down, because waiting for the prof to answer you is slowly killing the rest of us. Maybe if you hadn’t spent 10 minutes at the beginning of class sorting out your green screen, you would have caught that the exam is not, in fact, on Thursday. 


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