Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 18, 2021

After a terrible incident on Zoom, I realized that we must normalize farts

By RONNY D. JR. | April 1, 2021

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APRIL FOOL’S: This article was published as part of The News-Letter’s annual April Fool’s edition, an attempt at adding some humor to a newspaper that is normally very serious about its reporting.

It is with great embarrassment that I must share this testimony of mine. This story henceforth is my contribution to a greater and better public, so that anybody who can resonate with my struggles knows that they are not alone. 

Because of the ongoing pandemic, we’ve had to make great adjustments in our daily lives. We’ve had to explore and transition into a whole new virtual world, and issues aside, we’ve become comfortable with it. But what happens when you become too comfortable? I’ll tell you what happens.

The monotony of my everyday, Zoom-centered life has impacted my acute awareness of self. By this, I mean that I have morphed into a ruthless savage, a being with no social etiquette and no control over my body or what it does. When the world was normal, we were around people all the time. We watched ourselves in public — we kept our voices at an appropriate inside volume, slapped friendly smiles on our faces and suppressed burps and farts.

But why did we do that? Why must we suppress our farts?

I had conformed to these social norms, but after a precarious incident last Thursday, I’ve converted into a fart-normalizing advocate. After facing virtual humiliation head-on in light of doing something that is actually normal but has been regarded as socially unacceptable, it brought a lot of new perspective into my life, and I knew that I would be changed forever. If anything, I shouldn’t even be embarrassed about what happened. Because of my body’s own decision to, at that fateful moment, rip a really big one, I had to sit down and face my reality.

What happened was that I released a massive wave of flatulence during one of my Zoom classes.

I sometimes forget to mute myself; after all, in real life, there is no such thing as a mute button. However, I had gotten used to this magical ability to do so, and I guess a part of my subconscious assumed that I had already muted myself like I usually would. I remember at which point in the lecture I had released my fart very clearly:

“And so, there’s a lot to look at in this text,” Professor X (we shall refer to him as “X” in order to preserve his identity) said. “I’ve uploaded the PDF onto Blackboard. If you could all open that now — ”

I simply could not restrain myself.

Pfffoootttt.

It was so satisfying; I sighed in euphoria. It was impressive, too — my laptop, which was in my lap, shook from the impact.

Pure silence. Silence had never felt so heavy, so scary, until now. I looked up; the entire class was staring straight into the camera. Professor X had also stopped speaking. My thoughts scrambled, and I finally made the connection.

Oh, crap. They heard me.

Gasping, I fumbled with the mouse to turn my video off. Growing hot from embarrassment, I must have put myself into a deep shock, for I released another one, and it was just as brutal as the first. 

Brrrrrroohhh.

The sickening sound resonated loud and clear. There was no mistaking it. 

I turned off my video and muted myself. I was rotting away, in bed, in my own fumes and anguish. I was absolutely distraught; even my hands were shaking. How would I be able to face anybody again?

In retrospect, this was where I made my second biggest mistake. Turning off my camera only made it that much more obvious that I was indeed embarrassed. Now, I wish I had owned up to it and stayed on, but in the moment, my fight or flight response was triggered. Being the coward I am, I decided on flight.

I waited another one, two, three seconds, but nobody said anything. My ears still rang from the blast of the fart, and my nose was clogged with my own toxins. Even my eyes began to burn. 

Finally, Professor X cleared his throat and joked, “Well, somebody had some beans for lunch, didn’t they?”

The class erupted in laughter. Oh, my goodness. This was social suicide. 

After what felt like ages, the lecture proceeded. Though I’d like to think that my classmates had already forgotten about me and my farts, there would be hints of smiles on their faces for the duration of class. I shut my eyes and gripped one of my buttcheeks angrily, shaking it.

“Why?” I had whispered to myself, demanding an answer from my own buttcheek. I was a fool, talking to my own ass like that.

Questions filled my mind. How did this happen? How could I have let myself do this?

Then I had a revelation. Of course this was bound to happen; after all, I had become way too comfortable with online schooling. Sitting in bed in the comfort of my own home everyday had lifted any social “rules” from my life. Yet, I also saw that had I muted myself from the beginning, the humiliation would not have unfolded — but I still would’ve ripped a big one.

So, because of my bad luck, it just so happened that when I farted, I was unmuted.

This thought comforted me greatly. Surely all of my classmates have ripped big ones during their Zoom classes as well. There was no justifiable reason for them to have made fun of me or laughed at me like they did. It was bullying.

The following day, after ruminating over these worries all night, I visited the Counseling Center for advice. I revealed that for all of my life, I had been ashamed of my farts. They were loud and potent, so I always felt forced to flex my buttcheeks together and hold it in until I got back home. But now, with everything online, there’s no reason to do that. 

My counselor advised me to acknowledge it head-on, to conquer this fear of mine and to show the world who I really am and what I’m made of. And since then, I’ve discovered a newfound bravery. 

So, I am writing this testimony now as a call for action. We have to normalize farts. They are seriously not that big a deal, but when they are made into one, they are thoroughly embarrassing on every account. 

It took a lot of courage for me to open up about this so publicly, but farts matter. And to anybody who also feels insecure about their farts, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Things will always get better, and I’m living proof of that. 

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