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Prevent Your Own Jeffrey Toobin Zoom-Dick Incident By Doing Literally Anything Else

Don’t be Jeffrey Toobin. Please.

Like it or not, Jeffrey Toobin’s Zoom-dick incident was inevitable.

Nearly eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic in a world of virtual Thanksgivings, work meetings and happy hours, we were due for a high-profile technological gaffe. In 2020, a huge chunk of our lives takes place through a screen, and at some point someone important somewhere was going to do something wrong while the camera was on.

But none of us were quite ready for the Zoom-dick and how it played out. A quick recap in case you missed the furor Monday: New Yorker and CNN journalist Jeffrey Toobin reportedly exposed himself during a Zoom video conference meeting meant to simulate the U.S. presidential election last week. Toobin, who was playing the role of the courts, thought the camera was off and, well, it certainly wasn’t. He’s been suspended from the magazine and higher-ups are investigating.

And that’s how #ZoomDick ended up trending for most of yesterday.

Let’s get this out of the way to start — publicly masturbating without consent from everyone involved is a form of sexual assault. No one on that call consented to seeing Toobin’s downstairs. Masturbating at work is definitely not OK in any context. Mistake or not, it’s right he’s facing repercussions for it.

That being said, with the amount of time we’re expected to spend in front of a screen these days, we’re all bound to get bored on group video calls every now and then.

Jeffrey Toobin speaks on May 30, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Paul Marotta via Getty Images
Jeffrey Toobin speaks on May 30, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts.

I’m not condoning shirking responsibility, but it’s fair to admit that thoughts wander and other tasks are completed while the camera is off. That’s a frank reality of remote work.

With that in mind, here are a few things you can do while bored on a Zoom call other than what Toobin did. Because please, please, please don’t do that.


Pop your headphones in, listen to that presentation and prepare yourself a tasty omelette or sandwich. As a bonus, you get to eat said omelette or sandwich while taking in the rest of the meeting.


When I was in undergrad at the University of Calgary, a guy in my second-year English literature lecture would bring a pile of yarn and knitting needles to every lecture and sit right in the front row, listening and knitting along. At the end of the semester, he had this beautiful scarf and all I had was jealousy.

WATCH: How to finger-knit. Story continues below.

I have great respect for the background knitters/crocheters of the world! So why not spend your Zoom call downtime prepping something to keep you or your loved ones warm during this cold pandemic winter.

Do a puzzle

Flex your brain with a Sudoku, crossword puzzle or good ol’ fashioned jigsaw! The New York Times Spelling Bee has been a particularly great time-waster during the pandemic.


Twitter beckons. Why not scroll endlessly and see what new horror this day brings? Hopefully not another #ZoomDick.

Bother your pets

This is what pets are for, assuming your specific pet is down for a mid-work snuggle session. Better yet, though, do this with the camera on to prompt adoration from all of your colleagues. We’re eight months into this and, frankly, I’m not seeing enough cats on Zoom!

Bother your family/roommates/partner

You can also step away from your call to pester your fellow work-from-homer, who presumably is also bored at home work.

Reorganize your desk

There’s always a reason to move pencils from one drawer to another, or set your plant on the left side of your monitor instead of the right side. Spend your meeting downtime making the space you have to spend so many hours working and living in more bearable.

Send that email you’ve been meaning to

We all have that one email we’ve dreaded sending. Why not turn your boredom into productivity and pay that bill or respond to that family member!


Pop a sourdough loaf into the oven before your meeting and spend the meeting’s duration lovingly gazing at it through the oven window.


Perhaps sitting cross-legged in the middle of your bed, hunched over your laptop eating Halloween candy out of the box for eight hours a day without moving isn’t the healthiest choice.

A stretch is good for all of us! So take that Zoom call downtime to get up, raise your arms above your head, take a walk around your home with your laptop in hand and reset your body for the rest of the day. Your bones will thank you.

Look at this corgi in a backpack

I spend more hours than I’d like to admit looking at corgis in backpacks. They’re very cute, and they’re a good distraction from the hell of the world.

Message a friend you haven’t talked to in a while

Part of living in the pandemic means losing touch with some people in your life, as we’ve all limited our social circles and contacts. Take this bored moment to reach out and schedule a call with a pal you haven’t talked to in a while — I guarantee it will make you both feel a lot better.

Do your laundry

Laundry is actually a great household task to do while working from home, because it gives you set intervals for taking a break or getting up from your desk. Give something your undivided attention for an hour, then take a break to flip the load.

Actually pay attention to the meeting

If all else fails, maybe grant the people you’re on a call with a little respect and give them your time. Whoever’s talking likely also doesn’t want to be there, so the least you can do is listen to them.

Then, when you’re off the call, go back to harvesting your Animal Crossing orchard.

We all do what we have to do in these trying times.

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