I decided to dive headfirst into the world of Chatroulette. The site's only been up since November of last year, so it makes sense that I haven't heard too much buzz about it until the last month or so. Funny screencaps are popping up everywhere, and it seems to be "the next big thing"-- even if, as Jon Stewart said, all internet sensations seem to be some combination of the same old stuff. That aside, I've been curious about it. I haven't talked to internet strangers since my admittedly-sordid AOL chat days, and even then I'd never shown my face to anyone. I had never seen these people doing crazy things or jacking off or just staring at me curiously.
So on Friday night I decided to check it out. I was really nervous, partially because I didn't know if I'd just get a bunch of people saying "hey, fat chick!" or something, and I wasn't really prepared to deal with a lot of undue cruelty. But, hey, I am a veteran of the internetz: I have been on LueLinks. I can deal with anything.
It really does feel supremely awkward at first. Far more awkward than encountering one of the billion penises is finding a normal person, just sitting there, waiting to find something amusing or interesting, but instead they found you, another normal person just sitting there waiting to find something amusing or interesting. And perhaps you stare for a moment, not sure what to make of each other. Maybe you'll say hello, but probably not. One of you will probably disconnect in hopes of finding what they came to Chatroulette for.
There were moments when the whole thing creeped the hell out of me-- like finding much older men staring into their webcams expectantly. This is definitely one of those websites that I don't think teens should be going on.
There were moments when I realized how judgmental we all are. Chatroulette really forces you to confront the idea that we are constantly passing snap judgments on people. After awhile, you realize you "nexted" every guy with a beard, or girl, or nerdy boy, or person with tattoos, etc. and you have to stop and wonder why you wouldn't want to talk to that person and really examine the thoughts that go through your head upon seeing any one of these individuals. Or maybe I'm making this whole thing sound like it has way more potential to be "deep" than it does.
It was after I came across a man in a priest costume eating baked beans that I decided I would be able to tell you about Chatroulette much better through a bunch of screencaps than through words. Unfortunately I totally forgot to get a picture of Baked Beans Priest. Boo.
Most of Chatroulette is waiting for the thing to give you someone to talk to.
I found a woman doing what seemed to be a performance art piece cutting paper.
I met a video of a gopher.
There was pillowtalk with a luchador.
I found out that there are indeed pudgy older men dressed in latex cat suits. I didn't capture it, but he was also miming cat things, like licking his paws.
There are plenty of people asking you to show tits. This guy said just as I was disconnecting "if you like French bread and the Eiffel Tower, you should do it."
And then there were moments like this one that were incredibly genuine. When I connected to this guy, I saw him lean a little closer to the screen to see me and just smile. And I smiled back, because it was one of the friendliest, nicest smiles I had seen in a long time and it really made my night.
Have you ever been on Chatroulette? What was it like for you? If you haven't, why not?