On Fridays I write about (almost) whatever I want. Because it’s fun.
Like everyone else on earth, I’ve been hearing lots about ‘chat roulette’. I give my friend Ogy credit for ‘breaking’ the story because right after he mentioned it, all of a sudden everyone was talking about it… to the point where Jon Stewart had to create a parody.
For those of you who also don’t spend way too much time on the internet, here’s what it is: You go to www.chatroulette.com, enter your birthday for age verification, and you get to a simple interface. You can turn your webcam and microphone on or off. Random strangers show up in the other video camera window. If you want to talk to someone else, click ‘next’. That’s it.
So you hear about all these terrible or weird things you are going to see. And I’m not telling you I didn’t see anything inappropriate but I didn’t see nearly as much bad stuff as I was expecting. A few observations.
Chatroulette is like that chatrooms of way back, except now better looking people have an advantage.
It’s oddly insulting when someone takes one look at you and clicks the ‘next’ button. That said, it’s nice when a hot girl tells you you’re ‘sexi’. By actually seeing the person, there is a bit more of feeling like you at least know a bit about who you are talking to.

Aren’t good looking are are afraid people won’t talk to you? Try to be memorable. Wear a mask, play an instrument, be a puppet listening to people’s emotional problems (all have apparently happened). Take a cue from the Chinese who are having much more zany fun with this than the average American like myself.

Eddie, one of my chat friends, and I decide to look investigatory as we both stick pencils behind our ears for my screenshot (with his permission, because I am not a jerkface).
Other people seem to also be investigating.
I won’t say I didn’t run across a few naked people but I ended up having nice conversations with an Egypian business student and a New York book publisher, two people I would have never otherwise talked to.

Both Mostafa and Eddie were investigating like I was and had met others who were too. And both were giving it a first try, not knowing what to expect, and seemed grateful that I wasn’t crazy. At least, not that they could tell.
There are more interesting uses than you’d think.
I love talking to random people (you should even see me at an awkward business mixer, I just get right in!) so discussing the class system in Egypt and office life with a publisher was me in my element.
Eddie said one of his friends uses the software to talk with old people because it reminds him of stories his grandparents told him. And as far as if you want to see lots of people instead of talking to one person, Eddie told me there is even a scavenger hunt you can go on looking for people doing um, a variety of weird things. I’m sure other uses will come up as more people give it a try.
Most everyone prefers to type.
So you can enable your webcam and microphone but I noticed most everyone prefers to type rather than talk, which I find interesting. Also it’s interesting how the webcam refers to the other person as ‘partner’ while in the chat window they are ‘stranger’, though both Mostafa and Eddie thought this was an over analysis. It probably is just a translation or programming error but I’m noting it anyway.
So whether I tried this so you don’t have to or you are ready to go out and see what you see, be safe and have fun!

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