Chatroulette.com has quickly become a global phenomenon connecting complete strangers worldwide - with only a webcam and internet connection. The increasingly popular website was created last November by Russian teen Andrey Ternovskiy, who says the concept arose from video chats he had with friends on chatting program Skype.
Is chatroulette a fun game that bridges the gap of culture and can speed up globalization, or is it just a fad with a seriously sinister side? You decide.
The way it works:
Chatroulette connects random strangers in a chat-like environment. Even though you don’t need to log in, there are options to the way you chatroulette. You can choose to turn on your microphone and webcam (or one or the other) as you’re paired with randoms, or just partake in an old school text chat.
You aren’t always stuck with the same partner, though. You have the power to spin the chatroulette wheel at any time by clicking “Next” at the top of the page.
As with any web trend, there’s lingo to come with it - like “nexting (v)” Ex. If your partner doesn’t like the look of you, or you’re in an unsatisfactory conversation, you can (and probably will) be “nexted.”
After reading a few articles on the subject, I thought I’d give the chatting experience a ‘spin.’ So that night I turned my webcam and mic on and began my chatroulette experience.
I set up my computer in my dining room and made sure to look presentable, like my mother taught me. I was about to meet people, after all.
At first I was nervous. My stomach clenched as it started to load my first partner.
It was a dude. Shirtless, 20-something and looking bored. He looked at me for a second and I smiled politely. Just when I was about to type a ‘hello’ or a ‘hey,’ his screen went dark. “You have been disconnected by your partner.”
I was “nexted.” First time off. I was kind of offended, but I didn’t have enough time to think about it. When I looked up (wearing my confused face) there was another bored 20-something guy in a dark room wearing a cap backwards. Judging me.
Nexted again. How rude!
It didn’t take long to get over the rejection. Soon after, I began to next people myself. Seas of curious and confused (mostly male) faces flashed in front of my eyes until I began my first chat.
I met people from everywhere. I’d always say that I was from Texas, expecting that I was chatting mostly with people in the U.S. (And a good number were) I got a lot of people from New York City and some from Maine, but as I went on I found that I was seeing into rooms of places across the planet: Turkey, France, Russia, the UK, Brazil and there’s no telling about the people who nexted me or who I nexted. Truly incredible.
An overall survey of chatroulette users turned out to be a large amount of men looking bored, groups of friends experiencing the service for (presumably) the first time, some couples, a few older people looking confused, people wearing sunglasses/masks/making funny faces, people holding up signs and very, very few young women. And for good reason...
Probably six or seven people in, I got flashed by a random man. I was certainly not interested in discovering someone’s full monty, let alone when I was expecting to see a face. It didn’t take long for me to figure out to keep my cursor hovering over the next button.
As much as I would like to tell you how uncommon this is, it certainly is not. For every three bored dudes, there is a man exposed. Horrifying and disgusting.
Parents, be sure to block “www.chatroulette.com”. This website is not a place for people who are easily shocked or those impressionable.
In fact, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot sent out a consumer alert March 9 warning parents to keep children away from the “new video chat web site,” saying that it “poses a threat to Texas children by giving users – including dangerous sex offenders – an opportunity to conduct live video chats with randomly selected participants.”
The experience is definitely a double-sided coin. You can go from having a perfectly polite and worthwhile conversation with someone in a far-away land to being face-to-face with someone or something incredibly unseemly.
Chatroulette creator Andrey Ternovskiy claims he chose the name "Chatroulette" after watching 1978 Vietnam War film “The Deer Hunter,” in which some prisoners of war are forced to play the deadly game of Russian roulette. Somehow, it is quite appropriate.
Website trends come and go. Are you willing to try chatroulette? If you do (or already have), be sure to leave a comment about your experience on the website.
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