Thursday, August 26, 2010

When You're A Stranger.


I, like J, have never been on Chatroulette. This is because I take great care to avoid ever coming face-to-face with your average American. Especially those with enough free time on their hands to spend hours webcamming with strangers.

Most of what I know about modern-day human beings, I know from Starbucks. Starbucks collects a smattering of life forms. Once upon a time, Starbucks was considered a white upper middle class cliche. But not anymore. Now it attracts people in every age bracket and social class, of every creed and color. And an awful lot of schizophrenics. Why, just today, in the very seat I am sitting in now, there was man obsessively cleaning his glasses and cell phone with a little vial of fluid, then arranging them neatly, only to resume cleaning them immediately after getting them just so. Somebody get this guy a venti soy Zoloft Frappuccino pronto!

So it follows that my only experience with Chatroulette is seeing people on it at Starbucks. Yes, at Starbucks. Because people often seem to confuse Starbucks with their own living room, behaving in ways that are really only appropriate in the privacy of your own home. This includes taking your shoes off, feeling up your girlfriend, and trolling hookup websites for hours on end. About the only thing I haven't seen someone do at a Starbucks is play Russian roulette, but I assume it's only a matter of time.

The "brilliant" feature of Chatroulette is that you can do anything, and with the click of a button, vanish, never to be seen by the person on the other end again.
I believe it is still illegal to flash your penis to a stranger on the street and then run away, but for some reason this cyber-equivalent is perfectly acceptable. It's the "ring your neighbor's door bell and then hide in the bushes giggling" for the 21st century.

And I thought technology was suppose to advance us? Talk about adding a new meaning to "Ding Dong Ditch."

The "supposed" function of Chatroulette, I'm guessing, is friendship and perhaps even romance. It harkens back to the chat rooms of the 90's, when the people we spoke to online would generally be total strangers who live hundreds of miles away. In the years since, with the advent of Myspace and Facebook and the like, that style of chatting had all but gone out the window, until someone thought to combine this with webcams.

Now, I know not everyone uses webcams for erotic purposes, but I can't help but associate them with naughtiness. It's always disturbing to me when a family member or other person I don't want to think about naked mentions using one, even though I know (assume) there was no X-rated activity involved. In college, my mom offered to buy me a webcam so she could see me while we talked on the phone. I flatly refused, as if my mother suggested I host a meth-fueled "golden showers" party in my dorm room. I'm sure there are some people in this world who would use a webcam completely innocently, but these are not the kinds of people I consort with.

So inevitably Chatroulette was going to be about T & A. Well, T & A & D & P. If there's one thing your average American is good at, it's wasting time. If there's another thing, it's shameless narcissism. Chatroulette combines both of these American pastimes, like apple pie smeared on a baseball. And as if the people you meet on the internet are not fickle enough, Chatroulette allows you to just...disappear. Craiglist is full of Missed Connections like this one nowadays, with people who feel they have really, truly bonded with you and your naked appendages over the past twenty minutes and now are left with no way to contact you.

In fact, it feels like the main reason for Chatroulette's inception is so that Hollywood can produce a gimmicky movie about it, the way they try and do with every new technology. Imagine the possibilities:

1) CHATROULETTE: THE HORROR MOVIE - A Rear Window for 2010 in which someone witnesses a murder on Chatroulette, but no one believes him.

2) CHATROULETTE: THE ROMCOM - A woman finds the love of her life on Chatroulette. He has a beagle. But - oh no! - Chatroulette "automatically nexts" them before they have exchanged the proper information! She must track him down using what little she knows about him: his location, his taste in decoration, what his penis looks like, and the name of his lovable beagle.

3) CHATROULETTE: THE INDIE DRAMA - A young girl encounters herself on Chatorulette - or, rather, the long-lost identical twin she never knew she had. They go on a road trip of self-discovery together, come of age, and encounter lots and lots of quirky people along the way. But - uh oh! - her twin secretly only has six months to live.

4) CHATROULETTE: IN 3D - You haven't had this many strange breasts and unfamiliar penises flying at your face since last Cinco de Mayo!

Perhaps someday, if I'm bored enough and possess a webcam, I will check out Chatroulette myself. Until then, I suppose I'll just have to see an unattractive stranger's body parts the old-fashioned way: by waiting for that guy in the trenchcoat who frequents the local playground.

Press "next" to find new person,


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