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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Chatroulette's not

We've all been there.
Its 1 a.m. on a Friday night, you're at a friend's house and everyone seems to have had one too many to drink.
Flip cup, beer bong, Never Have I Ever and Kings have lost their appeal and everyone is a little bored. That is, until that guy shouts, "Hey, lets go on Chatroulette!"
When my best friend posted the link to Chatroulette on my Facebook wall with the comment "It's the new fad ... check it out," I thought she had lost it.
Who in their right mind would want to log onto this site and talk to random people from God knows where about God knows what?
It was over a month ago that I was first introduced to Chatroulette. I can say with the utmost certainty that my opinion of this site has not changed one bit.
I have a problem with the idea of Chatroulette for many reasons.
The concept of Chatroulette according to Andrey Ternovskiy, the 17-year-old from Moscow who invented the site, is to be able to chat randomly with people from all over the world.
This ideal is essentially flawed because no one actually chats with random people, but rather "cruises" until they find a very specific type of person they want to talk to.
Guys I know usually next, or search for different webcam users until they find a hot girl – or any girl for that matter – who looks desperate enough to show her breasts.
Girls are no better. They will next through dozens of screens until they find a hot guy or at least the of appearance of one – depending on how poor the participant's webcam is.
This Web site feels a lot like speed dating for the world's most socially inept people. Which would probably be fine if not for my second problem with the site – the creeps.
It is nearly impossible to spend any amount of time on Chatroulette without coming across at least one guy engaging in self-pleasure.
Exhibitionism is a fetish, but if you get off from having a roomful of drunken guys die of laughter while you satisfy yourself, then maybe you should get some treatment for that.
Then there are the hoards of old men – some who haven't used technology since the 8-track tape – who cruise the cyber highways looking for underage girls or boys to talk to.
Add to that the promiscuous tween girls in push up bras, psychotic users hanging from ceilings, having sex with stuffed animals and slapping themselves, the clowns, people dressed up like horses, cats and superheroes, and you've got yourself an accurate sampling of the bizarre encounters one can have on this site.
I think webcams, when used to keep in touch with people you actually know, are great. They are one of the reasons why I got a Mac with one built right in.
But when it comes to a site like Chatroulette, which I feel has the same social acceptability as sitting alone on a Friday night in your dorm room watching porn, I prefer to say let's not.
I have better things to do than watch some guy force himself on a stuffed raccoon.

E-mail: asjonas@buffalo.edu


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