the Unseen Costs of Zoom

This article was written by Maor (’21) a contributor at the Valley Torah Scroll.

At Valley Torah, we actively monitor the COVID-19 situation and apply it to all CDC guidelines. As such, we offer both in-person and Zoom classes for our religious studies and Zoom-only for our secular studies. This is done to protect our students and staff. However, learning through Zoom is quite tough. Class discussions feel like an empty void, distractions are all too common, and our focus has been lost.
Gemara needs active interaction with a rabbi to teach it and fully understand the thought process behind it; Reading from Sefaria.org or Artscrolls won’t cut it (but they do help tremendously). This year, the contrast is even more noticeable as we were “spoiled” with the Monday-Thursday in-person classes. Yet, our mishmar classes, Sunday school, and Fridays are spent at home, staring at a screen the entire class period. The Rav doesn’t feel like he’s there, so you’re much more likely to be doing things other than paying attention. It is quite easy to “turn off,” something which is not possible in person. Plus, dealing with screens and words does not provoke the same reaction as interacting with the person face-to-face, which leads to a lot more rebellious attitudes. Cyber-Bullying rates have increased to 73% from the original 36.5% (Source: https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/cyber-bullying-statistics), and I feel like bullying has overall increased. It’s important that we acknowledge that the people on your screen are human too, and have emotions just like you do.

I suppose that last sentence could be used as a summary in general; in a way, everyone is similar in the sense that we’re all going through these tough times. The difference is if you decide if it’s together. The difference is the response you have to it. Will you take the opportunity of being home to study more and focus on your grades, or will you waste it?

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