Can’t stand being in another Zoom meeting? Fed up of staring at your stupid face? Wondering why so many things that used to be handled by, say, a phone call, or an email, now suddenly require everyone’s floating head to sit in a virtual room and nod for an hour?
Well, someone clearly had these exact same frustrations. As originally reported by the Verge, a developer has now created the Zoom Escaper, a tool that will play sounds so unbearable on your Zoom call that other people will want you to get off the line.
“My hope with Zoom Escaper is that people use it to escape Zoom calls and do less work,” says Sam Lavigne, the app’s creator. “I’ve been thinking about how sabotage might work in a digital context, especially one where the means of production are also personal devices that mediate your social life.”
In the Harry Potter series, the Weasley twins set up a joke shop full of magical concoctions, including the Skiving Snackbox: a kit that causes fake ailments – endless puking, nosebleeds, fainting and the like – to get students out of school for the day. I suppose this is the real-life version of that.
The application provides a library of annoying sounds to use as a get-out-of-Zoom-free-card. It can replicate the sound of a bad connection – like a modern day, tech upgrade of the old “rustle a sweet wrapper against the receiver” trick – only, instead of fake static sound, this is all broken-up words and incomprehensible speech. Some are more customarily frustrating sounds, like an echo you can’t get rid of, making you sound like you’re stuck in a time warp, annoying everyone on the video call who can no longer understand you and want to know whether you are, in fact, Zooming while stuck in a well.
Others are perhaps more, let’s say, unconventional noises, that could have the unintended consequence of not just getting kicked off of Zoom but perhaps feeling a little embarrassed in front of your colleagues (or getting fired) – one replicates the sound of urinating while in your meeting. (The Zoom Escaper does not offer any more unsavoury sounds than that – although if it did, it might offer Jeffrey Toobin an alibi). Others might lead your colleagues to ask if everything’s OK at home, like the function that makes it sound like a man is crying in the background of your call.
But they all hopefully have the same outcome – that is, to trigger everyone on the call to find you so irritating that they tell you to leave, or allowing you to bow out gracefully – for the benefit of everyone else, of course. What a hero!