Chatroulette.com is a website that instantly connects you with a random stranger on video chat. It showcases the freakish and the feckless: drunk frat boys do bong hits, headless half-men masturbate, self-proclaimed emos compare their asymmetrical haircuts, concerned parents probe, and snuff-video wannabees get off on shocking new users. No sign up required. No loyalty necessary. If what appears on the screen neither traumatizes nor fazes, there’s an easy fix—finger F9 or press NEXT. It’s human interaction reduced to schizo speed dating. Boredom makes strange webfellows.
Here’s a guide for beginners, and more of the same for the Chat Roulette set.
1. Getting Noticed (Without Getting Naked)
2. Peculiar Creatures
You: Please don’t peel those bananas
Stranger: Boobs plz
3. Nurturing Conversation
You: Hey bro
Stranger: I’m not a bro
Stranger: I like painting things
Stranger: And i listen to animal collective
You: We’re all brothers in Chat Roulette!
Your partner disconnected. Reconnecting...
You: what are you doing?
Stranger: just some girlz hanging outf
You: like a sleepover?
You: Can I come?
You: sookie sookie now...
Stranger: Hi there. I’m looking for some lady rabbits – seen any around?
You: I’m a lady rabbit.
Stranger: Ok then.
You: So you’ve found me, now what?
Stranger: I nibble you.
4. Finding The One
Stranger: May I seranade you?
You: Is that a ukulele?!?
You: Hey you.
Stranger: Who, me?
Chat Roulette is revolutionary because it’s meaningless.
What’s scary about cybersex, or really all cybercontact, is that the words are disembodied from the source. From the birth of the chat room, invisibility was the problem: it’s just text on a screen. That tender twink could be—and most frequently is—some hairy old thing. This uncertainty contaminated even nonsexual internet contact, making every post-and-response a potential breach.
Chat Roulette does not quell this anxiety by showing you exactly who you’re getting involved with and killing the ambiguity. Instead, the ambiguity is pumped up, made the organizing principle, and all of our imagined internet fears brought to the surface. Within minutes, you get weirdos, unsolicited dick shots, robots, spam. There’s nothing to fear because it’s already happened.
Chat Roulette debunks the myth that you know who you’re talking to even when you’re looking at them. You can’t know if the image on the Stranger’s cam is nonsense, found footage, distorted or, in fact, them. And it doesn’t matter: you might not even get to see it for long enough to tell. Chat Roulette is exclusively forward motion. Every intimacy, every wake and bake, every thirty seconds of voyeurism, is lost forever as soon as the next button gets hit. The promise of this “forever” is what guarantees your anonymity in the first place—and guarantees the pleasurable narcissism of the enterprise. You get to look at yourself much longer and much more intently than anyone else on the site ever will.
Which makes Chat Roulette a lot like life.