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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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High Tech Realm: Chatroulette, A New Way to “Conntect”

Looking for a good time but too lazy to roam the streets at night? How about gaining something valuable — be. it a: life lesson, glimpse into a foreign culture, or another example of how curiosity can scar you for life.

What’s the subject of this week’s column? If you said the next best thing since Internet porn, then you guessed right – at least with regards to shock value. I’m talking about Chatroulette (chatroulette.com).

A virtually unfiltered site which brings back memories of the days of chartrooms where virtually anyone in a chat room had the ability to take on any persona of their choosing. Chatroulette adds a modern twist to the previously mentioned classic by allowing users to also communicate via webcam and/or microphone.

For those who haven’t had the fortune to engage in Chatroulette I’ll provide (a heavily) toned down summary of the people I encountered.  My first stranger turned out to be a painted finger with a sign saying “Jesus 4 Life.” I tried to communicate via voice and text, however after two minutes of not receiving any meaningful response, I finally realized that the stranger may have been trying to communicate with me via prayer, however since I didn’t have the patience to deal with a finger, I clicked next.

Clicking next when I did (therefore overlooking a potential prayer) pr-obably was not a good idea because the next co-nnection st-arted with seeing an oversized posterior (I’m trying very hard to make this article conform to standard decency standards) in a thong, slowly turning. Just as I moved my mouse to hit next, knowing what was about to come (my ESP finally kicked in when I needed), the body stopped sideways and a hand revealed a very unpleasant surprise.

Not everything on Chatroulette was as boring/unpleasant as the previous aspects. Overall the flashers were in the minority – 99% of the time they disconnected instantly as soon as they saw my cam – and the rest of the encountered people were drunks, rowdy tee-nagers, pe-ople who look like they would fit well in an episode of “To Catch a Predator” (I was kind enough to provide that advice when applicable), and then just people exploring the site and willing to chat for a little.

While playing with the site, I occasionally tried to get input from users who actually got past the initial five seconds of seeing if you were getting a picture of a face or something way below, however many occasions I didn’t get very far because of language discrepancies – France and Germany seemed to be the most popular nationalities of my conversations.

So, what is there to say about Chatroulette. If you’re going on the site looking for serious friendships, you are probably better off going elsewhere. If you’re just looking for a great venue to start a flame war, have random/pointless exchanges, or enjoy the thrill of not knowing what you’ll see next on your computer screen, Chatroulette is for you.

Honestly, despite not expecting to form any serious connections on Chatroulette there was an addicting quality to the site which kept me on the site for an hour for my initial test. My second round with a friend lasted an hour and a half however in both instances very few intelligent conversations occurred. The only major hindrance of the site is the lag between connections which ranged from as little as a few seconds, to over five minutes.

Also, regarding obscenity Chatroullete has a report button; however it doesn’t seem to be discouraging many users from getting sick thrills. Searches for information about the site mention it was created by a 17 year old Russian teenager as a small project started out of boredom. Chatroulette did not respond to request for comment regarding information about the site and their policies.

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