When I casually mentioned to my lovely wife the direction I would take with this particular post, she had something rather interesting to say.
“I’d be careful if I was you,” she said. “There is a very fine line between being negative and pathetic.”
Lucky for the blog-reading world I’m not afraid to cross that line! Not by a long shot. :)
Then I found the Piano Chat Improv guy and laughed my ass off.
Lastly I caught a bit about Chatroulette on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
The third time was a charm. My curiosity was piqued and I had to go take a look. I searched through my closet and was surprised to find an old USB web cam that is probably six or seven years old. The damn thing still worked. It was time to try some Chatroulette for myself.
What is Chatroulette? It’s pretty much exactly what you’d think. A web site connects two random visitors anywhere in the world for a video chat. It was invented by a 17-year-old high school kid in Moscow, Russia. In November 2009 it reportedly had 500 visitors a day, certainly enough to kick my blog’s ass. Just one month later that had ballooned to a whopping 50,000 a day. Earlier this month the inventor estimated that there were about 1.5 million users of the service. (Source: Wikipedia.)
I should preface the comments about my experience with a bit of my warning: In case you haven’t heard, pretty much the #1 thing you’ll find on Chatroulette is “male genitalia.” Don’t ask me why. I mean, personally it would never cross my mind to “drop trou” and whip out He Who Must Not Be Named for the internet, but that’s just me. That’s not the way I roll. To each his own, I guess. And, as if that isn’t enough, most of them seem to be in various stages of … ummm … how do you say? Spanking the monkey? (There were so many slang opportunities for this one. I tried to pick one that was somewhat tame.)
For these douchebags who think their penis is God’s gift to the internet the “Next” button will become your very closest friend.
Incidentally, the Chatroulette rules prohibit “obscene, offending, pornographic material.” I think they still need to work on this part.
Quick flashback story: I once had a post office box. My wife’s girlfriend wanted to run a non-sexual personal ad and needed a place for people to respond by mail. We allowed her to use our mailbox. You probably have guessed where this is going. Yep. Our box was crammed full of pictures of penises. That was one of my earliest experiences with the true nature of the universe.
Anyway, back to Chatroulette. I punched the web site into my browser and after allowing the site access to my web cam, there I was, right on the screen! In the other box I basically saw 2-3 seconds of someone random before being “nexted.”
A participant whose chat partner clicks the Chatroulette Next button to move on to a new partner is described as being “nexted”.
Being a somewhat clever guy, it didn’t take me long to notice a trend. Anyone who saw my face quickly pounded their next button. I felt like making and holding up a sign that read, “Elephant Man is in the house, yo.”
I gave the service a good solid hour for the sake of science. Unfortunately I didn’t collect hard data. I’d guesstimate that about 25 percent of my connections fell into the “penis” category. Another 25 percent were black screens where it said someone had connected but no one was there. Were they they watching me while their web came was turned off? That’s just creepy!
The remainder of my connections seemed to be actual people, about 90 percent men. I also saw two male/female couples and one female/female couple.
In the entire hour, I only had two connections that lasted long enough for an actual chat. One was a younger male. We said hi, and he verified he could see me on my web cam. (Until then I’d never received enough feedback to know.)
The other chat was a couple of guys who looked like gang members. They were crazy! They were laughing at me and calling me names and basically acting like pimples. I asked “what have you guys been drinking?” and they replied with some most unsavory language about my wife.
In summation, if Chatroulette is any indicator of how your appearance is judged by the lifeforms on this planet, it was certainly an excellent way to learn where I land on the “ugly beyond all belief” scale. Based on the number of times I was “nexted” I’m apparently a perfect 10.