February 14th, 2010. It wasÂ Valentine’s Day, andÂ I woke up with a hangoverÂ worthÂ relaying toÂ my grandkids one day. I mean, this was reallyÂ one for the ages. I knew right off the bat how I wanted toÂ spend the day: curled up in fetal position on my futon. But when I finally left the BatcaveÂ to indulge in some DVR’d episodes of Law & Order: SVU, I found that theÂ living roomÂ was already occupied by a male friend and my roommate. Oh, and a stranger jerking off into his webcam.
This is not a typical Sunday morning in my book, but I’m intrigued.
My first impression ofÂ ChatRoulette? Filthy. In case you’re not in on the meme yet, ChatRoulette is a site where two strangers come face-to-face (or face-to-penis) via webcam. The point of the site is to chat with strangers without accountability. This means no logging in with an account, no filtering, and no saying goodbye (like Omegle, but with porn loops and people wearing masks). When you’re finished with your chat partner, you simply click ‘Next’ and are on to your next prospect (or victim, depending on what you use the site for).
Besides the oversaturationÂ of unwarrantedÂ peen, IÂ saw the appeal. With the click of a button, you’re the web equivalent of a Peeping Tom. Only, you’ve been given permission to look. Even better? You’re able to travel the world.
However, much like travelling the world, it’s likely you don’t understand a fucking word your new friend is saying and just like that; your interest evaporates. Or you could find yourself staring down a posse of ten-year-olds who really, really should go play outside or, hell, play a fuckin’ video game! ANYTHING BUT CHATROULETTE. Then there’s the lonlies, the olds, and the people who reject you, leaving you to sit there and validate yourself before building up the confidence to try again.
Now, let me interject that I’ve heard really great things about this site. I’ve heard of epic debates, conversations, love connections, and all kinds of shit that seems like the stuff of web dreams. I did not get to experience any such enlightening banter. Instead,Â allÂ of the focus wasÂ on my male friend.
What say our first catch? “She’s hot.” This came from an attractive dude who, if I were a few years younger and a hell of a lotÂ more indiscriminate, I would’ve probablyÂ dug. It wasn’t his comment that caught my attention, it was more that a. it was the first time IÂ became aware that other people could actually see me, and b. this was directed at my friend and not myself. Maybe I was not of sound mind due to excessive alcohol consumption the day before, or maybe I was high (this is possible), but it felt like Baby’s First Time inÂ a pimp/bitch dynamic.
My male friend got bored, we moved on. It got worse. “Show me her tits,” they implored. “Fuck her in front of me,” they begged. And I’m like, WOAH, MOTHERFUCKERS! Seriously?! It’s no mystery why these guys were sitting at home on Valentine’s Day wacking it, instead of hanging out with an actual person with one of those vagina things.
This goes on and on, and I grewÂ increasinglyÂ disenchanted with the entire thing. Plus, all of the penis and crotch shots were enough to make me consider switching teams. (Not really, but the never-endingÂ peniiÂ was doing nothing for my pre-existing nausea.) There were good moments (my friend tells some guy that his haircut is offensive and he apologetically agrees; some off-colored dancing shorts, trippy masks); and I startÂ to see the merits of ChatRouletteÂ when one dude totally crossed the line and tells my friend to rape me. UM? WHAT? SRSLY? Not that it makes a difference; but on Valentine’s Day, of all days? It was at that point I realized I’d gone from lusting for a Law & Order: SVU marathon to living one.
I felt like I needed to get tested for STDsÂ after an hour of this shit. Being able to click the ‘Next’ button doesn’t necessarily put you in control. You’re still subjected to things you’d rather not see or think about. People areÂ correctÂ in thinkingÂ that the creation ofÂ ChatRoulette will bring forth a slew of new-aged Missed Connections, or that it’llÂ change the face of internet dating as we know it. And it will, for some. As for me, I’d rather talk face-to-face at a bar, where my first impression of someone won’t be based on a dick shot or a request for me to sodomize my cat.