When the pandemic finally lifts, there’ll be several months where every face-to-face conversation starts with “I don’t think my video is working” or “Can you hear me OK?”

For now, this is Zoom’s world; we just live in it.

The popular teleconferencing app has become the lifeblood of many daily interactions in the coronavirus era. Although some companies have banned the software because of potential security issues, lots of people now depend on it for everything from daily work calls to family check-ins to socially distant dance parties with friends.

Some Zoomings are better than others, but there’s no denying the app’s virtual background option adds zest to e-occasions of every stripe.

There are practical reasons for these backgrounds. Some might wish to hide their archaic wood panelling and dying succulents from their colleagues’ prying eyes. Some people use them to illustrate a point. Other times, they’re just plain fun — a way to break up the monotony of experiencing life through a matrix of tiny screen squares.

What should you use as a virtual backdrop? Here are 10 extremely Philly suggestions to take your Zoom game to the next level.

PSA: Here’s how to add pictures and videos to your background gallery.

Old Jim Kenney tweets

Hizzoner’s evergreen takes of yore are readymade for these dark times.

Local news anchors

It’s been said a million times: Broadcast personalities are A-list celebs in this town. Pay homage to Rick Williams, Monica Malpass, Jim Gardner, or just cue some 6ABC Action News b-roll footage to remind everyone this call is very much on the record.

Wawa coffee carafe lineup

Business class, working class, professional but down-to-earth. Sure, you *could* roll video of your last single origin pour-over from ReAnimator, but the call host would 100% mute you.

Bob Brady drinking the Pope’s water

Prep for your virtual Passover or Easter gathering with one of the most noble acts of faith in modern Philadelphia history: local Democratic party boss Bob Brady drinking Pope Francis’ left behind water during the 2015 papal visit.

Eagles fan running into SEPTA pillar

For when you wanna crank the Zoom happy hour up to 11.

Your favorite dive bar

For when you wanna crank the Zoom happy hour up to 11 and support local business.

Thomas Eakins’ rowers on the Schuylkill

For your weekend cultural Zooms. Bonus points if you re-enact an actual rowing scene on the river banks.

Awareness cone in a pothole

Nothing like seeing a familiar face inside a familiar face in the background of a familiar face.

Italian Market grease pole

Shoot for the dangling salami basket. Even if you miss, you’ll land in a hard pile of beefy men on the concrete.

Johnny Doc FBI raid

Emulate the labor leader’s iconic suit: white button-up shirt, grey shorts, Philly sports hat. This is John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty as the FBI raided his South Philly home in 2016. As he later claimed, “the good guys always dress in white.”

Max Marin (he/him) was Billy Penn's investigative reporter from 2018 to 2021. A graduate of Temple University, he has produced award-winning journalism on local politics, criminal justice, immigration...