After a year of working from home, many of us are sick and tired of endless video meetings. Now we have an excuse to get out of these conference calls with a new tool called Zoom Escaper.
Digital artist Sam Lavigne made the incredibly simple web app, first reported by The Verge. All you have to do is install an audio plug-in called VB-Audio from the product’s webpage, then make sure you have the right audio devices selected, and then open Zoom as normal. From there, you can play a collection of sound effects in Zoom designed to irritate or annoy your coworkers, ostensibly to the point where your colleagues will ask you to leave the video call.
Some of the sound effects are a bit more straightforward than others. Clips of a crying baby and active construction seem like the most sure-fire way to get out of a video meeting, while the Bad Connection sound quite realistically mimics the choppy audio people might hear if you have weak internet.
But other effects, like a man weeping or the sound of urination, might raise more questions from your coworkers than sympathetic encouragement to log off, and if used at an inopportune moment, might get you sent to HR instead. Thankfully, in case none of Zoom Escaper’s preset clips have their intended effect, you can also manually upload your own soundbites. After all, the more you tailor sound effects to your specific situation, the more believable your excuse is.
And while Zoom Escaper surely can’t be used to get out of every video meeting for the foreseeable future, it might be a handy tool for those calls where you just can’t handle the inanity anymore.
But to me, the most impressive thing about Lavigne’s work is his dedication to cutting down on Zoom in a quest for better work/life balance. In addition to Zoom Escaper, Lavigne has also made Slow Hot Computer and Zoom Deleter, the latter of which routinely checks your computer to see if Zoom is installed, and automatically nukes it if Zoom is detected.
Lavigne told The Verge that some of the core principles of his art are “deliberate slowdown, reducing productivity and output, and self-sabotage.” In a time when the boundaries between home life and work life have been basically obliterated, those are philosophies that almost everyone can appreciate.