No one wants to be in another Zoom meeting. No matter how pleasant our coworkers or how pressing the topic, we’re all exhausted by staring at a camera during the pandemic and nodding along while other people talk. Zoom Escaper is a new program for those who need a break from the grinding crush of virtual interaction. It works by replicating the kind of audio problems that let people flee meetings—crying babies, weeping men, construction, echoes, and feedback.
Zoom Escaper is a soundboard that runs in a Chrome window. To get it working, you’ll need VB-Cable, a free program that lets users create a digital audio input. After you instal VB-Cable, navigate over to zoomescaper.com and enable the microphone. In Zoom, change your mic input to the VB-Cable, set “suppress background noise” to low and turn off high-fidelity music mode, echo cancellation, and stereo audio.
Zoom Escaper has eight different effects. "Echo" and "bad connection" make it sound like you're experiencing Zoom technical issues we are all familiar with by now. The other six options on Zoom Escaper allow you to leave “by self-sabotaging your audio so your presence becomes unbearable to other people,” said creator Sam Lavigne. You can insert an upset baby or barking dog into the audio and crank the volume. There’s construction noise, wind, and the sounds of urination. The most disturbing is the weeping man, which makes it sound as if someone else in the room is working through something and it’s all being broadcast online. They aren’t the most pleasant ways to leave a meeting, but these are desperate times.
Lavigne is an artist and programmer who’d previously created a program that checks your computer for Zoom and deletes it if found. In 2018, he created a database of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents pulled from publicly available sources like LikedIn. GitHub scrubbed the database from its servers.
Lavigne told Motherboard in an email that Zoom Escaper is a continuation in a series of projects about digital slowdown and self-sabotage. “A few other projects in this vein include ‘Slow Hot Computer,’ a website that makes your computer run slow and hot, and ‘The Good Life,’ which fills your inbox with 225,000 emails from the Enron email archive,” he said.
Lavigine said that Zoom Escaper took him a week to build in his spare time. Motherboard also wanted to know how many Zoom meetings he’s wanted to escape. “All of them, of course,” he said.
And how many Zoom meetings has Lavigne used his program to flee?
“No comment,” he said.