The “Leave Meeting” button: The red forbidden fruit

Wherefore art thou so tempting, yet so lethal?

PHOTO: Maksym Zakharyak / Unsplash

By: Nathan Tok / Peak Associate

English 404W class. Week 2.

When I first hath heard of Topics in Medieval Literature, I was told tales of its lethality, and its lethargy, of its length without end. My superiors uttered to me dreaded tales of the horror, something to be whispered in some dark far-off RBC castle. Those doyens did urge me to flee. Fool that I was, I threw caution to the wind and had dared to take the class during the online epoch. 

Perhaps . . . perhaps, this was a recompense for my sins.

I fancy thoughts of a Zoomless screen to peruse chain mail in peace (and not the sort about SFU’s academic integrity). Surely none would detect my absence. I am nameless in an army of named rectangles. In the darkness of a camera-less screen, there is no fellow greater or lesser than the other. My thoughts dwell on that red doorknob near the bottom right. 

“Hark,” my roommate beckons to me. “I have procured some rich and delectable pizza.”

I wave him away. “Dear fellow,” I call back, “I am in the midst of some great learning undertaking. Nourishment will have to await.”

He shakes his head in sadness and leaves. “Churl,” I think to myself. “What sort of fool stays in this room forsaking such Neapolitan delicacies?” Again I tempt myself with thoughts of taking my leave.

“Dear students,” the droning on continues, “let us break down these concepts in some breakout rooms.” The man pauses as if expecting some reaction from his poor jest. There are none.

I am transported into another black void. Others soon join me. We discuss how the great world events of our time are affecting those in another faraway land. Unemployment and depression. Inequity and inequality.

“LEAVE!” The crimson oblong calls to me. I stare at it with great curiosity. “Leave and never return,” it whispers again.

“I cannot. I made a pledge to myself, temptress. I shall strive for academic excellence and maintain my presence in class this period.”

“To what end? How will this help you adhere to your fate? Do you truly feel like a scholar here? You are merely kept on to fulfill a regulatory length of time to meet scholastic requirements.”

“No, you are wrong!” I say. “It is for the community of the learned. Intellectual interaction. That is the purpose of this Zoom assembly.”

“Simpleton! Surely you cannot believe that you can truly gain wisdom from merely watching a video? Alas! Next they will tell us to go on YouTube.”

“Yes!” I cry. “And so much the better. For learning can now take place anywhere and at your choice of time.”

“Then why not leave? Bear notice of my wisdom and all the knowledge of the world will be at your fingertips. Do not confine yourself to this foul make-believe room. ”

“Your powers are nothing here Knave! One cannot break a promise to thy ownself without losing a piece of the soul.” But I look on in wonder. Had I just been outwitted by a mere box? Was I really spending my precious youth foolishly? I am still pondering such deep inquiries as I see a new box appear on screen. 

“Meeting has been ended by the host.”

And the pizza is still warm.