How to Avoid Showing Your Ass Online (Literally and Figuratively)


Photo: Andrea Piacquadio

So "Zoom Dick" is trending after New Yorker staff writer, Jeffrey Toobin, exposed himself during a Zoom call with colleagues. ("Zoom Dick" has to be peak 2020 as far as trending topics go.) Toobin is now suspended and everyone is chatting about his...ahem...downstairs area.


More and more, our work meetings and interactions are happening online- especially now during COVID, when we often can't meet face to face. It's important that we ensure that we won't be the next one trending online as the unfortunate person showing their underwear (unaware that the camera is on) during a Zoom call.


I have made some online gaffes, such as hitting "reply all" when I DEFINITELY DID NOT want to reply to everyone on the chain. I have also been the person on a conference call who forgot to mute their phone and just continued on with daily life. (Luckily, I hadn't been doing anything embarrassing or private.) I have also been on the other end, listening in second-hand mortification as a colleague fusses at their children on the conference call, unaware that they aren't muted.


Here are some reminders (and trust me, as I'm writing this I'm reminding myself as well) to make sure we are not the ones showing our asses online (literally or figuratively):


  1. Make sure the video is actually off. Like double-check.

  2. Make sure you're actually muted. Maybe double-check that too.

  3. Wear clothes! And wear clothes that you don't mind others seeing. Like top and bottoms, just in case the video happens to be on at any point. We've all heard of the guy who was business up top and Jockey shorts on the bottom (he didn't think anyone could see he was in his underpants.)

  4. Save personal business for personal time. Some people mentioned that Toobin may have been...well...getting handsy with himself during the call. Maybe it's best to save that for a time when you're not in the middle of a business meeting. (An aside: that must have been one sexy-ass meeting he was in.)

  5. Mute your phone during conference calls. Because people can hear you opening that bag of chips. Or your child screaming for you to put on Cocomelon.

  6. Make sure you check whether you are hitting "reply" or "reply all." I definitely have messed up in this area and received a very snippy reply from someone I did not mean to reply to.

  7. Speaking of emails- proofreading is important. Just in general. But doubly important when you are sending out mass emails in hopes of selling your products, etc. I've received mass emails with multiple grammatical and spelling mistakes and it made me think: if you can't take the time to read over your email, then why should I sign up for your product/class/business course, etc.? Of course, most of us will make mistakes and most of us aren't English professors, but we should make sure we keep mistakes to a minimum.

  8. Make sure our online presence reflects who we are. A lot of us sell things and promote our work using social media. This means it's important to ensure that we are constantly representing our best selves on our social media profiles. I keep getting Facebook reminders for my old posts from years ago and cringe, cringe, cringe, CRINGE! So embarrassed.


So anyway, those are all the tips I can think of right now. Let's go forth and conquer the internet, the conference calls, and the many, many Zoom calls that are in our future. And do it all with our pants on!