Monday, March 1, 2010

Chatroulette as a Tool for Self Discovery & Introspection

I started seeing articles about Chatroulette a week ago and started skimming them over. It wasn't until Ashton Kutcher started using it that I decided to take a peek based on the article wondering if he could do for Chatroulette what he did for Twitter. Before I delved in, I read a couple more articles and finally jumped in. (For anyone unfamiliar with Chatroulette, the novelty of it is to be paired up with random strangers all over the world for webcam and text chat sessions. It's a bare-bones operation. The only function there is, is the ability to hit "NEXT" to move on to the next stranger. Also be warned, it's not for minors - there's too much unnecessary nudity whether as pranks or purposeful.)

I was sick all weekend and figured now was the time to try it since I had nothing to do and was extremely bored after being a homebody. It was quite an interesting and even jarring experience. This is what to expect and what I learned about myself...

1) If you're extremely cautious, Chatroulette might not be for you.

To use your webcam, you have to realize people may take screenshots or record the chat sessions. So as soon as you are connected to someone they have access to your image, voice, and video - even if only for those 5 seconds before either one of you hits next. Funny or odd chat sessions end up pasted on the web for the world to see, fortunately or unfortunately.

2) It's a test in rejection and patience.

When I first logged on, the first few people had video cameras but the screen was all black either because the camera hadn't kicked in or they were really sitting in the pitch black. All those people I just nexted since I couldn't tell if it was a technical glitch. I started seeing way too much nudity so I would hit next as well. And then, I started to get rejected. And I would wonder - is it my looks, does my babyface make me look younger, do people think I don't speak English because I'm Asian? LOL (I only saw a handful of Asians online.) So when you realize this is how it works, the first five seconds you're connected to someone new, both parties usually just sit there blinking and staring back. And I realized we're both waiting for the other person to either hit next or finally say hi. LOL

3) Chat sessions vary in length and are pretty mundane.

When you're not hitting next for 15 minutes, you finally land in a chat session where someone wants to chat. My longest session was probably 15 minutes and it's the typical - where are you from, what time is it there? It's very much a Seinfeld episode.

I once chatted with 4 college boys and they jokingly started the session by saying, "Herro." I laughed and said, "I speak English! I'm in Cali" and it turned out they were from Santa Barbara. It was an okay conversation. Chatroulette is very much a novelty item that wears off after trying it for a day or two.

4) The connection is a bit unstable sometimes.

Be prepared to have a nice normal conversation and then your webcam freezes or your text box won't work anymore. And then you're forced to hit next or visit the home page again thus losing the connection. And once that happens, there's no being able to find that stranger again. That wasn't such a big deal because I didn't really see the need or have the desire to keep in touch with random strangers, but I realized I felt SO BAD thinking they thought I rejected them or just outright ditched them mid-way thru a conversation.

5) Be mindful of what your webcam can see.

During a session when my webcam worked, but my text field didn't, I resorted to writing something down and then showing my pad of paper to the camera so they would realize I was having technical difficulties. I'd write things like, "frozen" "can't type" and eventually "bye? :(" A minute later, I realized the pad of paper I chose was my old work stationery that had my full name on it and (old) work phone number. Granted, the likelihood of that guy saving our chat session or seeing that information is unlikely, but it gave me pause to what else might be in the background of my webcam. Luckily, I was at my dining room table so the most comments I got were "nice microwave" because that's all they could see.

These are the thoughts that went thru my mind during my experience.

-You look young. If you look or are under 21, I don't need to talk to you.

-Am I one of the oldest people on here? Everyone looks like a teen or a college student. I'm defintely not.

-Will I find someone in Los Angeles, someone I know, or get paired with a celebrity?

-How many non-English speakers are on here?! (I spoke to some people in China who couldn't really understand English although he could type "You are very cute." So we chatted in Japanese. He was also married and his wife and friends were in the room so I waved hello. LOL)

-Even if you ask nicely, no nudity here.

-Where are all the normal non-drunk, non-high people?

-I think I'm too boring for this site. Or maybe it's because I'm sober.

So try Chatroulette for fun if you're really bored. And listen to all the questions you ask yourself quietly when you hit next, or when the stranger decides to skip over you.


  1. hey nice article, I found this after googling 'longest chatroulette conversation'. I met an Australian girl from Brisbane and we talked for 9 hours! no lie, she stayed up until 6 in the morning her time and had work at 11, it was like 7am my time until 4pm, craziness. I've used the site for about a week now, had the cam and it's been nothing but good to me, met plenty of generous women who are up for having fun, one 28 year old english woman I met chatted with me for an hour before I said I need to go and do my nightly duties and she said maybe she could help, true story.

    9 hour chatroulette conversation record? maybe so.

    1. The Muser at Musings of a High Level Executive AssistantMay 31, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      Loved this comment! :)