Abolish All These Damn Zoom Work Calls So I Can Be Naked While Working at Home Again

Photo: Shutterstock (Shutterstock)

So it’s not so much that working while naked is a thing I need to do. I’m anemic, so I get cold easily. (I am the person who, immediately after checking into a hotel room, turns the thermostat to 80, leaves and doesn’t come back until the room is sufficiently toasty.) And it doesn’t feel sanitary to sit my bare Black ass on my leather office chair. Neither my ass nor the chair seems to appreciate that experience much.


Still, the option of mid-workday nudity is something that I’ve grown to savor in the 11 years since I last held a job that required me to visit an office. But because every damn work-related phone call now is a fucking video chat, I’ve been robbed of that choice. Yes, I probably would have been dressed and brushed and washed by 2 p.m. anyway. But now I have to be. And that’s not right. It’s just not right that I can no longer do what I used to do on work conference calls, and that’s put the phone on mute while just doing something else until the call is over. I even learned how to perfectly time when to unmute the call and offer something like “Yeah, I agree. It needs to more context” to make people think I was paying attention. But now I actually have to look like I’m paying attention. You know how hard it is to look like you’re paying attention when you’re not at all? You might as well just pay attention. Fuck.

I also now have to ensure that my workspace is clean and stylish enough to be on camera, which creates an entirely new ecosystem of anxieties. For instance, no one loves to tell people what they do for a living without actually saying it aloud more than writers do, which is why so many writers do Zoom meetings in front of home bookshelves. But what if you don’t own what you believe to be a sufficient amount of books? Or what if you bought and read Confessions of a Guidette by Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi—because you were just really into Jersey Shore in 2010—and someone zoomed in during your Zoom call and saw it? Six months ago, you would’ve been naked and happy. Nips, tits, and balls all out while writing fire and eating eggs. Now you’re an outed and unproud Snookiphile.


When also considering how hyper-cognizant these ceaseless Zoom calls require you to be of room lighting, sound, and background noise, it’s just adding more work to the day. AND I DIDN’T WORK THIS HARD TO HAVE TO DO WORK I DON’T WANT TO DO! I never thought I’d actually think or say this, but can we just hop on the phone again?

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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Fortunately most of the people at my workplace have chosen to not turn on the camera for our meetings. It’s the reason I’m commenting here right now while sitting on a conference call about website metrics and watching an episode of “Star Trek: Voyager” with the captions on.

Of course, I also work for a company that has forbidden us from hosting meetings on Zoom due to security concerns. We’re only allowed to use WebEx.

I don’t do full midday nudity but I am a practitioner of the Pants-Free Lifestyle™ so I’m not taking that tape off my laptop camera for nothing.