When I first heard about Chatroulette and went on it for the first time, I vowed I would never go on it again, for the sake of passing up one of the creepiest experiences. I had only done it once before with a couple of my friends because we thought it was hilarious to see what kind of people were on there and what they were doing and then quickly ‘next them’. This time around I tried to stay on a person for a bit, but I cannot help but press next quickly as I feel this stranger is intruding into my life and personal space. I found that many on Chatroulette were men, creepily waiting for who knows what and to do who knows what. I decided it was time to quit Chatroulette when someone messaged me “show for show?”. I know people like to interact with people on the internet via chat rooms, social websites or dating sites, but Chatroulette is not the place to make friends…at least not for me.
I’ve experienced Chatroulette before, and had some pretty interesting, and creepy experiences. Tonight I was prepared for some very graphic images, but fortunately I did not! This may be random speculation, but after tonight, I think it may depend on the day of the week as to what you will find on Chatroulette, and therefore the technopanic can be more accurate on different nights.
In the past, I’ve chatted on a Friday or Saturday night, with my friends just goofing around and seeing what this website was all about. Oddly enough, I was on at the same time as a friend of mine, but we never saw trace of each other, yet I found numerous people multiple times. That night, guys would be sitting around drinking, flipping through the masses of people who came through their computer screens, playing pranks, and showing off their genitals. I can definitely understand why there is technopanic about this website, if you are constantly viewing inappropriate and pornographic material. It can be fun for mature audiences, but for an unsuspecting teenager, or preteen, it can be a scarring experience.
Tonight, however, was a much more pleasant adventure. Everyone was clothes (whew) and I only encountered a few people who skipped past my chat immediately. Most people stayed to chat, and were just looking for something to do, someone to talk to, and probably hoping to find something silly or a creative prank. One person set up a jack in the box, which reminded me of Saw. They didn’t stay to chat when I tried to talk. I chatted with one guy who was from Mexico, and attempted to get information out of me as to where I was from, where I studied, and personal information I didn’t feel was appropriate to share with a stranger. I evaded questions and gave vague answers. He complimented me and tried to flirt with me. It was not a situation where I would feel technopanic, but I also did not feel comfortable just sharing information that he was requesting. Luckily, this site allows you to just flip right by the people who give you the willies, onto the next viewer! Another guy was getting high in the bathroom, and I couldn’t hear him, but from what I could get out of him, he sounded ready to debate and battle anyone – probably his means of entertainment, or maybe he’s more confrontational when he gets high, who knows.
So overall, concerning the technopanic, this is a harmless website for adults who are aware of what to content expect (just about anything!). I would say this website is not appropriate for young children, for obvious reasons that I experienced that one Friday night. However, it also does not disclose any more information than you are willing to give, except your country of residence. I suppose if someone were to try to hack my IP address, they could probably find my general vicinity some how, but the odds of that are slim. Most everyone I chatted with tonight was just being fun and friendly. Good experience, especially since I feared the worst 🙂
When Chatroulette first came onto my radar I thought the concept was a breeding ground for bad ideas and disturbing images. How can pairing two random people with video cameras turn into anything good? Nonetheless, I really wanted to see what all the hype was about, so I gave it a try. My findings were nothing short of creepy because my experiences were marked by a few disturbing images of the male anatomy and stuffed animals in compromising positions. I felt relieved when I encountered completely harmless groups of high school to college age kids waiting for something interesting to come up.
When taking a step back from this experience, I understand why there would be a moral panic about this site. Chatroulette is like a chat room with video involved, which honestly scares me. You get live two-way interactions with complete strangers. I do not understand the point or the appeal of using it. There is really no way to censor or prohibit pornographic behavior. I don’t believe the internet should be policed, however, this website really does not serve any purpose or benefit anyone. It does not link old friends or connect you with people that have similar interests. Clearly this behavior and these images appear all over the internet, but most pornographic sites do not foster any interactions between people. Chatroulette makes it easy for teenagers to physically engage in sexual interactions or encounters. Although some people use it in an innocent manner will not cause any permanent damage to a child, it does seem like it could be an easy route for online predator to connect with a lonely teenager.
I really hope this fad is not here to stay because it doesn’t really fulfill any social needs. There are way more productive and better ways to spend your time than speaking with random strangers with bad intentions on the internet.