We Went Around the World in Zoom!

First Fridays at 5 Around the world with Virtual Backgrounds 20210903

First Fridays at 5: Join the Conversation

September 3, 2021

Hosted by Ruth-Anne Klassen

For the September 3rd edition of First Fridays @ 5, we took the grade school concept of Show n’ Tell to a virtual level, and we had the coolest class in attendance! At the meeting titled “Around the World with Virtual Backgrounds,” we displayed real-life pictures in our Zoom background and told the stories behind them. After getting a primer on how to change our backgrounds, we received invitations to post pictures in the background according to a given theme.

To change the virtual background in Zoom:

Once you are part of a Zoom meeting and have allowed Zoom to use the computer camera, there will be a “Stop Video” button displayed. Hover over the button and select the ^ icon within it.

Stop Video button

You should be given a menu to click on the “Select Virtual Backgrounds…” option.

Choose Virtual Background

A new menu will appear, where you can either choose from Zoom’s selection of backgrounds or click on the + icon to add an image from your computer.

Virtual Background options

We first invited the group to take us to places they had visited, in the form of pictures. Our group has collectively traveled places such as a snowy field in Halifax, their own home in Virginia, a giant tipi in Alberta, and a rocky seaside. Also on display was a beerhouse in Germany, a shark from vacation, and newly captured wedding photos. Though the sight of snow was unheard of to some, others described how common snow is in their part of the world.

The conversation became tinged with pride and fondness as we shared images of some of our closest friends, animals and humans. Multiple dogs appeared in backgrounds, varying from young and old, innocent and mischievous. Others had chickens or a turtle, while one group member displayed a picture of their loved ones in a family band.

We showed we are not only technical writers but well-rounded hobbyists, as we revealed what we do in our free time. We learned designing quilts is a task that becomes easier with specialized technology, and another group member likes to read books and visit libraries. One group member enjoys providing leadership at Vacation Bible School, while another shared a product of their photography pastime.

The most appetizing part of the conversation was when we showed off culinary creations. A loaf of bread would have eclipsed the group member’s head due to how big it looked in her background, while a buffet in a German hotel was a widespread affair. The group could almost feel the texture and flavor of a home-cooked French dish, and the comfort meal from Popeye’s also sounded satisfying. Still, there’s a reason we might not photograph food—we made food to dig in, not to take pictures of it. The food tasted delicious but did not prove itself in picture-worthy aesthetics.

Overall, the meeting was a lively time to learn more about IDL regulars and welcome fresh faces among us. The pictures provided a way for us to bond over tales of common experiences and learn more about group members’ lives outside of technical writing.