Student individuality missing when cameras are off


Asher Wolfe

Students feel missed when their cameras are turned off in online classes.

By Asher Wolfe, Social Media Design Editor

First things first: this is not a complaint, nor an imposure of an opinion. This is not even a story. This is an expression of confusion, and this is a message of encouragement.

In each and every one of my classes, most students keep their cameras off. I am not denouncing this, and I understand that there are many reasons one would need to have their cameras off: a messy room, perchance, or a desire to not spend all one’s waking hours staring at the screen. I also acknowledge, and agree, that it is nice to have your camera off during a work time, but I don’t understand why people leave them off when the teacher is just explaining something, or trying to have a conversation with them.

On that note, I have had every one of my teachers say that they like seeing our faces, and that they want us to have our cameras on, if we can. But still, even after hearing them express this, the number of people showing their faces has actually gone down. A few of my classes are just the teacher speaking to a wall of faceless, silent rectangles. A couple of my teachers have no idea what some of their students look like.

It’s like if we came back to in-person school and everyone was wearing a big paper bag over their head. And the teachers say, “Hey, it’s really nice to see your faces, could you maybe take the bags off?” And no one does. It’s just very odd. Everyone wears a mask, but we do that out of necessity. If we were going to school in a normal, in-person, virus-free setting, no one would be expressing this desire to hide themselves. On the contrary, everyone would be present, unobscured and unmuted. Each person would be unique and interesting, because that’s what we all are.

Herein lies the problem: we are each and every one of us distinct and beautiful individuals. However, if we hide our faces, none of that individuality is able to shine. We are not students anymore, here to learn and make friends. We are just two letters. We are just another rectangle on another screen. Which no person should be reduced to.

Now, I said this was going to be a message of encouragement, but so far it’s just been kind of sad, so. Encouragement time. Those readers sensitive to uplifting sappiness may wish to look away.

You are a beautiful person. Yes, you, the one reading this shockingly well-written article. You are more than two letters inside a circle, inside a rectangle, inside a computer. If you feel insecure about showing your face, that is totally valid. But bad hair days happen to everyone who is not bald. Acne will happen to everyone, no matter if they scrub their face four times a day. Whatever reason you have to think you shouldn’t show your face, it’s going to happen and you don’t have to let it stop you. So maybe it’s time to let some of that individuality shine through.