Imagine you’re a child playing with a ball in your driveway. A van drives up, and the driver asks you to walk around back and see what is in the trunk. You know your parents don’t want you to talk to strangers, but you approach the windowless van anyway. You open the trunk, and in a matter of seconds, you must decide to get in, start talking or close the door and walk away.
This, in essence, is Chat Roulette.
The Web site at chatroulette.com, is the newest, creepiest, most authentic way to talk to strangers on the Internet. Users project a live feed of their webcam and are matched up with another random user. They are then allowed to chat over mics or instant messaging. At any time, a user can press “next,” disconnecting them from the chat and hooking them up with a brand new stranger to talk to.
Like any sane person, I was terrified by the idea of Chat Roulette. This was why I decided to spend nearly three hours of my life spread across two days on the Web site. This is an up-to-the minute report on what I saw.
Day 1- Monday, March 1
12:12 a.m. – I log on. My Webcam is giving someone a sweet view of my beard. I start looking for strangers to talk to.
12:15 a.m. – Oh god. First set of male genitals.
12:22 a.m. – Everyone is nexting me. Am I that scary? What are people looking for as their ideal random stranger?
12:26 a.m. – A bearded guy tells me that I have a nice beard. This kicks off a conversation about how most men are either half naked or chronically nexting everyone. He tells me that the conversation “has turned his night around.” I feel pretty solid about myself.
12:44 a.m. – The first new guy I talk to nexts me immediately. How do I get skipped by a guy who’s not even wearing a shirt?
12:45 a.m. – Random kid has a sweet hat that looks like a bear.
12:55 a.m. – Even people with exposed genitals are nexting me. Aren’t they a little too busy?
12:57 a.m. – There’s an old man wearing a cardboard box and eating a candy bar. I laugh hysterically.
1:11 a.m. – Two things: I have seen maybe three girls on here since I started. Also, all of them have disconnected with me before I could say or type a word. Getting rejected on Chat Roulette is even quicker than real life.
1:15 a.m. – A guy wearing Aviators shows what I can only assume to be his totally legal medical marijuana paraphernalia. He tells me about his satisfying career as an environmental engineer in New Orleans. Apparently, there are a lot of pipes that need fixing, and he is extremely fond of referring to people by first names or as “peons.” We talk for a half hour.
1:42 a.m. – A guy wearing a bandana threatens me with a Mega-Man action figure. I promise to let the world know of this grave threat. He’s maybe 13.
1:47 a.m. – See my 12th set of male genitals of the night. I decide it’s a fine time to log out.
Day 2 – Tuesday, March 2
12:12 a.m. – I log on and immediately see a man spending some intimate time with himself. I hate the Internet, people and myself.
12:20 a.m. – In the past eight minutes, I’ve seen some drunk Norweigan kids, someone telling me I lost “the game” and two more sets of male genitalia. I feel like quitting.
12:24 a.m. – Five people nexted me before I could say anything. This is the most brutal part of Chat Roulette, the constant rejection of everyone based on looks and boredom is kind of terrible.
12:30 a.m. – A lady and a guy both wearing towels start talking to me. She is a recently fired producer for “Frontline” on PBS. We talk about Bob Dylan and Japanese synchronized dance.
12:46 a.m. – I tell a girl that I like the M.I.A. song she’s listening to. She tells me that she hates Kanye West and has jury duty tomorrow in “Killadelphia.” I wish her the best of luck in surviving.
1:08 a.m. – I talk to a guy who tell me a) not to mess with Texas and b) that Taylor Swift is a lively Chat Roulette partner.
1:17 a.m. – This is the second time I’ve seen the same guy in a skull and snake mask. It’s an Internet miracle.
1:22 a.m. – A group of people have a sweet R2D2 on their coffee table. They tell me not to see “The Book of Eli.”
1:25 a.m. – I just saw a sign that said “I should like to meet enjoy girl.” This is an all-time low for picking up ladies via the Internet.
1:29 a.m. – I chat with a girl who says she has to kill four minutes. After three minutes, she asks if I have anything to say at the last minute to stick with her for the rest of her life. I tell her she seems very nice and she will come to rule a soon-to-be-discovered country off the coast of Sweden. We ended up killing seven minutes.
1:38 a.m. – I see (get ready for it) the 19th set of genitals of the night. I log out.