If you didn’t already think time was a social construct, the last six months have probably changed your mind. The movie you said you watched last weekend? That was two months ago. And the tweet you thought you saw last week? It was posted today. Since we’re all online literally all day and have nothing better to do than run a new meme into the ground hours after it’s created, new trends come and go faster than ever before. While the banana bread and sourdough baking phase is probably seared so permanently into your memory that you’ll be telling your grandkids about it when they ask about 2020, there are probably a few trends and moments that have already been erased.
The Carrot Challenge
Approximately two days into quarantine, everyone was apparently already so bored that they resorted to an Instagram challenge where they tagged their friends to draw a carrot on their story. It is truly remarkable to look back at this moment in time and realize how naïve we were that we could have possibly thought that was the worst it was going to get.
This feels like something from an entirely different time, back when there was still hope (aka mid March). Thanks to one of the first TikTok trends to pop up in quarantine, people everywhere were using the 20 minutes that they’d usually spend commuting to the office to whisk coffee into a froth. Given that I haven’t heard anything about this in a few months, it seems like people have now realized that time is better spent sleeping in.
this quarantine is really testing the limits of what photos make the cut for a throwback post on instagram
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) May 8, 2020
Another long-forgotten trend is the “Until Tomorrow” era, a time when you couldn’t open Instagram without seeing a feed full of embarrassing photos, bad selfies, and baby pictures (that would be taken down the next day to avoid total humiliation). Personally I think taking your photo down is a weak move, since true Instagram baddies have had embarrassing photos up since 2010 and never took them down no matter how bad (and over-filtered) they were.
“First Photo” Challenge
As I’m sure all the other single people quarantining alone would agree, this challenge felt like a personal attack. Seriously, couples posting their first pics together? Like, did I ask for every other Insta story to remind me that I’ll be riding out a pandemic alone and getting dressed up for FaceTime dates for the foreseeable future?
Remember that week (or was it a month? Who knows) where you got a notification every five minutes that someone was going live on Instagram? Including the girls from high school “running their own businesses” showing you how to use their essential oils? My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who accidentally joined someone’s live where there were only two other people watching. Leaving one of those is almost as uncomfortable as the split second of eye-contact you make with your boss every time you exit a Zoom meeting.
“See 10, do 10?” Yeah, I’m good thanks. I haven’t done a push-up since I was forced to for the fitness test in elementary school, and I won’t be picking those back up because someone tagged me in an Instagram story.
The memory of Tiger King feels like a fever dream. Like, we were really so desperate for entertainment at that point that we just ate that sh*t up and said “NEXT, PLEASE.” It’s kind of incredible that we got desensitized to the absurdity of every single event that happened in that series so quickly. But given how f*cked up everything has become since then, it was good preparation for coping with the rest of the year.
Zoom Happy Hours
if you're still scheduling 14 zoom happy hours every weekend you can chill, we all just want to sleep
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) April 24, 2020
Realizing that having a Zoom happy hour every night of the week does not make up for real-life interaction was a breakthrough that took longer than it should have. Playing drinking games at home is fun when you have somewhere to go afterward, not when you’ll just be sitting in your childhood bedroom, totally wasted, after you shut your laptop.
The “One New Thing A Day” Phase
I’ve been thinking a lot about the people who started quarantine by saying “I’ll be making one new cocktail a day!” or “Every day I’m going to make one new piece of art!” Where’d they go? Last I heard from them it was day 14 I think. Are they okay?
Instagram challenges and TikTok trends will come and go, but you know what will never go out of style? Wearing a f*cking mask.
Images: Mollie Sivaram / Unsplash; bigkidproblems / Instagram; betchesluvthis / Twitter
Once upon a time, the most challenging decisions a bride had to make were who would be a bridesmaid, who would walk her down the aisle, and how to get out of inviting her annoying college roommate who always dresses way too provocatively at events. Granted, none of that was easy and even back in the pre-coronavirus days, the wedding stress was out of control. Now, however, brides are faced with new hurdles after already going through the previous ones, the biggest of which is whether or not to have a virtual wedding, and how to go about doing it.
Since no one can go anywhere or be near each other, those 100+ people weddings are obviously out, but a virtual wedding isn’t necessarily cut and dry either. For a legal marriage, you need the essentials (license, officiant, exchange of promises, signatures, and sometimes witnesses). If you’re considering tying the knot on-screen, however, you might be confused about how to go about making that happen.
Since more and more couples are opting for virtual nuptials, we’re breaking down the hows, the whys, and the whats you need to have a legal and memorial Zoom wedding. “Everyone deserves to be excited and celebrate this most important milestone,” says Caroline Colavita, the director of e-commerce for Adrianna Papell. “You’ll want to feel like The Bride, not just another Zoom happy hour attendee.” From the legalities to the psychology behind ceremonies, here’s how to make your Zoom wedding feel just as, if not even more special than the in-person one you originally planned.
What/Who Do You Need
Wedding 101: Every state is different surrounding the rules and regulations of marriage. As any bride will tell you, part of the process is digging deep and figuring out what, exactly, you need to be legally wed in your state (or in the state you’re getting married in) because making it simple is not part of the process. Still, most places adhere to the basics. According to Martha Stewart Weddings, “A legal ceremony includes a signed, state-issued marriage license and ‘an exchange of promises.'”
In order to make that happen, you need to obtain a marriage license, have an officiant conduct the ceremony, exchange promises (this is usually where the “I do” portion of the ceremony comes in, but this could also be exchanging of rings or doing a handfasting), and getting the necessary signatures on your license before mailing it in. In some states, this means you need to have a couple of in-person witnesses there as well to sign your license and confirm that both parties actually like, want to get married. You know, the whole signed, sealed, delivered? That’s basically the essence of what’s got to go down to make your marriage legal, whether it’s virtual or in-person.
Where You Can Do This Virtually
The hurdle couples are currently having to face is that with courthouses and other state facilities closed, obtaining a marriage license and/or having a ceremony with a legal officiant can be difficult, if not impossible. Some states, like New York, are changing the rules to allow couples to have legally binding virtual weddings, in light of the pandemic. On April 25, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order which allows New Yorkers to not only obtain marriage licenses remotely, but also allows clerks to perform ceremonies via video calls.
In addition to New York, couples in Colorado are now able to apply for marriage licenses online, and couples in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County can obtain their licenses via video call in special circumstances. Some states have select drive-in hours for obtaining licenses or having a ceremony conducted by a clerk. Call your local office for your location-specific info.
If you managed to obtain your license before the world ended (and it’s still “good”—some last only days and some last months), you can have a willing family member or friend become ordained online through the Universal Life Church or the American Marriage Ministries. This will give them the authority to legally marry you in a non-denominational ceremony. That said, depending on your state’s regulations, your officiant and/or witnesses may need to be in person. (Just please, adhere to the six feet apart rule!) Call your local clerk office or visit their website for your county’s regulations.
A Commitment Ceremony
If your state has a freeze on marriage licenses or their doors are closed (and obtaining one virtually à la New York isn’t an option), that doesn’t mean you can’t have a ceremony to celebrate the big day. Just like your birthday month, when you’re a bride, you get to have as many GD celebrations as you want. That’s just like, the rules of marriage. If you can’t get the license but want to still make a commitment on your original planned date, have a ceremony anyway.
Without a license, you can have a commitment ceremony that feels just as magical, just be careful with how you word it. “A commitment ceremony, while lovely, is not legally binding and has no requirements. It is important that the couple or the officiant not use language to imply a legal marriage is occurring, as this can be construed as fraud,” Diane Smith-Hoban, executive director of the non-denominational officiant group Journeys of the Heart explained to Martha Stewart Weddings.
The only difference between the two ceremonies is that a commitment ceremony isn’t legally binding. But if that’s the day you want, have a ceremony and then sign the paperwork once you’re able. Just because it’s not at the same time, it doesn’t make it any less official. There are tons of tips online about how to have a commitment ceremony, but basically, you just can’t use language that says “you’re married.” Bonus? You don’t need an officiant or anything particular to make it work—it can be entirely your own.
How To Make It Special
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remember when our hardest decision was who to invite to our weddings? Now it’s which online streaming platform to use.😫 beautiful lake house corona elopement story submitted by @waverlyrood: “Our big wedding was planned in Savannah for April 18th but we had to postpone due to corona, so we had a tiny ceremony at my groom’s lake house – his brother officiated and just our parents were in attendance & friends over zoom!! We are so happy and can’t wait to celebrate with everyone in September.”
So, you’re having a virtual commitment ceremony, whether legally binding or not. THIS IS EXCITING, and don’t let anyone tell you any differently. “We are living during a key point in history and one of the most important moments of your adult life,” says Louisa Rechter and Alessandra Perez-Rubio, the Founders of Mestiza New York. “You will want to document every moment, tell your grandchildren about what happened that day, and pull out the dress you wore as a cherished family heirloom! It will be incredibly special and memorable.”
Utilizing rituals and wedding traditions, such as dances, music, dressing up, and dining, will literally help your mind understand you’re starting a new stage of your life.
Dress The Part: Whether you wear ~the~ dress or order something new, this is the time to get full-on glam. “Do a try-on session with your mom and/or maid of honor. Get their input just as you would at your local bridal salon,” suggests Colavita. Don’t be afraid to wear a non-traditional gown—this is about YOU feeling bridal. While Amazon has delayed shipping for non-essential items, other retailers, such as Rent The Runway, Adrianna Papell, and Mestiza are still fulfilling orders in a timely manner so you can get a gorgeous look in time for your Zoom ceremony.
Set The Stage: Pull out those Christmas lights, order some flowers from a local nursery, have some mimosas while getting ready, and light allllll of the candles. Just because your wedding is different than you originally planned, it doesn’t make it any less special. In fact, considering you’re facing the GLOBAL F*CKING PANDEMIC together and making the best of it, that kind of makes this even more special if you ask me. You’re like, very brave and very pretty. So, live it up! Decorate your space, put on those false lashes, play that perfectly curated prelude music.
Keep The Traditions: Always dreamed of having your dad walk you down the aisle, having your first dance with your hubby, or cutting the cake together? There’s no reason you can’t do all of those long-loved (or hated) traditions. Hell, being at home means you can be even more creative and do exactly what you want. Have a cardboard cutout of your dad made so he can walk down the hallway with you. Sew some dog bones on a garter and toss it to you’re pups after your S.O. removes it. Have a literal cake fight in your backyard. Do it all and do it exactly how you want because the only people that matter are you two.
Document The Experience: Zoom weddings are all the rage right now, so don’t hold back from documenting your day/prep just as you would with an in-person ceremony. Have a hashtag, have a bachelorette party, and spam your feeds with photos just as you would have originally. “Get a selfie stick with a tripod and timer so your significant other can capture the evening. You will want special photos to look back on,” advises Colavita. Just because the celebrations might look a little different, it doesn’t make them any less Insta-worthy.
Soak It Up: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This is still your day. This is still your wedding. This is still your marriage. Get dressed up, decorate your space, and have a staycation honeymoon right after. It might feel silly, but go over-the-top making your day feel memorable from home. Someday when you look back, you’ll remember how you started your love story during a very dark time in our history, and honestly? I can’t really think of anything more romantic than that.
Images: Eliza Szablinska / Unsplash; Giphy (3)
Even with the world coming to a complete stop outside of our homes, people are finding new and innovative ways to suck, even from a (social) distance. Whether it’s your idiot neighbors who think that the second the weather hits 60 degrees outside, coronavirus magically goes away, Vanessa Hudgens opening her mouth, or this new insane thing called Zoom-bombing, humanity never ceases to amaze me—and not in a good way.
So, what exactly is Zoom-bombing? You can probably guess based on the name, but it’s when people join Zoom calls without an invite and typically with a pretty sh*tty motivation. This obviously isn’t unique to Zoom, and all video conferencing programs are vulnerable to hacking. As someone who has been using Zoom for meetings since, like, high school, I honestly have never thought about doing anything like this. However, I guess when the entire world is now dependent on a single platform, it’s easier for sh*tty people to do anything to f*ck it up for the rest of us. This is why we can’t have nice things.
As schools and businesses across the country increasingly rely on Zoom for remote learning, conference calls, and the like, so too have people taken to being incredibly disruptive to Zoom-based meetings and using the platform for really f*cked up stuff.
I am a junior at Tulane University, where, a few weeks ago, a Zoom class was recently interrupted by a so-called Zoom Bomber. After news of the event spread throughout campus, I was able to get a hold of a student who was on the call when it happened. She agreed to share her experience with me but asked to remain anonymous, so we will call her Sophie.
Sophie is a Junior in the business school (but she’s chill, I promise) and is taking a Research and Analytics class this semester. Discussing the event, she said, “we were going over attribute types when this kid, whose name I didn’t recognize, asked a question that didn’t make sense.” According to Sophie, the class is small enough where she could recognize the names and voices of her classmates, and she thought he may have just been a member of another section of the class, which is a pretty normal thing to happen. Let’s just say I’ve definitely been a little hungover and gone to a 2pm stat lab instead of my 9:30am one before.
However, things got a little more abnormal when the professor went to the next slide on his presentation. Sophie explains that one of the attributes being discussed was hair color. “My professor said that these attributes can’t be ranked, and that was when the Zoom Bombers decided to make their move,” Sophie recalled. “These two voices, which I didn’t recognize, both started saying that’s so racist, and you can’t say one hair color is better than the other.”
But Sophie explains that it wasn’t just a dumb-ass student misunderstanding and being disruptive: “that’s when they started dominating the conversation, and they took over the screen, started drawing swastikas over the slide, and then completely took over the screen and were writing the N-word all over it.” The eeriest part of it, said Sophie, was that “they were just laughing during it. It wasn’t just a bot, these were actual kids who wanted to take over the class” to spew racist hate speech.
Eventually, this the professor was forced to end the class mid-session and used a password for the next session.
“It was so startling hearing real people’s voices on the other end, laughing and having fun while they were doing it,” explained Sophie. “I had heard about because my brother’s school got an email, so I wasn’t as startled, but I don’t think my professor knew about it at that point.”
It isn’t just college campuses that are dealing with Zoom-bombing, according to the New York Times: Reddit, Instagram, Twitter, and 4Chan have been used to plan these “harassment campaigns.” Classes in middle and high schools, doctoral dissertations, youth group events that have been moved online, and company-wide meetings are just some examples of events that have been disrupted. I guess even if the world is ending, assholes are going to asshole.
No one could have predicted that all at once, Zoom was going to become the backbone of many people’s work lives, and the company was not fully prepared to be used on such a wide scale. However, they are working now to make up for lapses in security and other programming issues.
Over the weekend, Zoom sent an email explaining security measures to users. These include virtual waiting rooms and meeting passwords, which they recently enabled for users with free memberships; the virtual waiting room feature will be turned on by default so hosts can manage who enters their meeting before it begins. They also removed the ability for users to randomly scan for meetings to join, and are requiring all meetings to have a password. Hosts can also require all users to authenticate before entering, which basically means people need to create and log into their Zoom accounts to be permitted to join a meeting. Additionally, Zoom and similar video conferencing programs encourage that users stay on top of updates that include new security measures.
The bottom line is that Zoom-bombing is like if someone gave photo-bombing steroids and a MAGA hat and made it 1,000 times more offensive and disruptive. It isn’t funny or cute, and if “don’t be an asshole” isn’t enough of a reason not to do it, then just know the FBI is looking into it too. In a recent press release, the FBI Boston Division said they are paying increased attention to cyber-crimes, especially incidents of Zoom-bombing. They recommend not making meetings public, and not posting the links to any upcoming meetings on social media, but rather, give the link out directly only to the people you want to attend your meeting. If you’re hosting a meeting, you may want to change your screensharing settings to “host only” so random trolls can’t take over your screen.
As if the constant threat of COVID-19 wasn’t enough, we have to be extra careful in terms of the technology we use. The same FBI release recommends that in addition to increased security measures that companies like Zoom have taken, all users should use their due diligence.
Image: Gabriel Benois / Unsplash