Who's Afraid of ChatRoulette?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Feb. 16 2010 5:53 PM

Who's Afraid of ChatRoulette?

In the last issue of New York magazine, Sam Anderson takes an incisive look at ChatRoulette , an increasingly popular Web site that links two strangers by random chance to a one-on-one video chat on a simple interface. There's no sign-up- you go to the site , click "Play," and within seconds you're connected with a stranger. You can stay and chat, or click "Next" and up comes another stranger. The objective, at once simple and wholly fascinating: a bottomless barrel of no-repeat interactions with random, potentially entertaining oddballs. The not-surprising news, though, is that chatters see an unfortunate amount of man-with-penis-in-hand during chats. (Instant video-conferencing with no "back" button is a pervert's dream, for obvious reasons). Just yesterday Mindy Kaling tweeted, " Chat Roulette is horrifying. We just used it in our writers room. It was naked guys or guys in Jigsaw masks." And a pervert's wet dream is a parent's nightmare. The New York Times ' tech blog warned last week : "Parents, keep your children, far, far, away."

The jury's still out on whether the ChatRoulette has real staying power. Most everyone who's written about it so far has expressed some degree of repulsion. (Among the descriptors used in various reviews: nauseating, repulsive, socially depraved.) And Omegle , a random chat site that essentially works just like ChatRoulette sans video, garnered a fair amount of attention last year when it launched and has now nearly faded from the spotlight entirely. I was intrigued by Anderson's vision of a more controlled, but still random version of ChatRoulette:


I found myself fantasizing about a curated version of ChatRoulette-powered maybe by Google’s massive server farms-that would allow users to set all kinds of filters: age, interest, language, location. One afternoon I might choose to be thrown randomly into a pool of English-speaking thirtysomething non-masturbators who like to read poetry. Another night I might want to talk to Jets fans. Another night I might want to just strip away all the filters and see what happens. The site could even keep stats, like YouTube, so you could see the most popular chatters in any given demographic. I could get very happily addicted to a site like that.

I have a hard time, though, believing that random video-chat will ever move that far past the "Flash your tits!" imperative.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.