Chatroulette for Social Networking? The Verdict

March 1st, 2010 |


Soaking in the world and spitting it out, one blog post at a time. Consider me the Clark Kent of web stories without the cool glasses, the fancy suit and, well, the muscles.

When we think of social networking tools, the obvious choices that come to mind are Facebook, Twitter, and (perhaps) MySpace. They  follow a somewhat similar format; you can add your own media (music, pictures, links, etc.), there’s a place for you to give everyone the 411 on what you’re up to or who you are, but more importantly, you can socially network. Your friends or people you awkwardly added to your friends list can interact with you and vice versa. You can even follow people or have them follow you, despite how unbelievably creepy that sounds. So when I first heard Chatroulette being mentioned in this arena, I really began to wonder…is this really a social networking tool?

Here are some things you should know about Chatroulette.  First, unlike Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, there is an age restriction to Chatroulette -  you must be 16 and over to enter. Secondly, anything goes for the most part. Despite the weak warning from the site, anything you do is really all good unless someone reports it. You can see an Al Gore masked man, followed by boobs, followed by some American troops stationed overseas who are just as curious about Chatroulette as you are. Thirdly, this was invented by a 17-year old boy in Moscow, yet the servers for the company are in Germany. Why Germany? Because it’s halfway between the United States and Russia (there’s something oddly politically poetic in that precise planning).

But, I digress. As much as I wanted to shun Chatroulette from the realm of social networking and put it in the category of short term novelty/failed speed dating site, I have to admit, there is some social networking going on there. I don’t just get a link to a rockers music – she can play it for me live. I don’t need to look for the latest pictures; there’s a live feed of your face. And I don’t need to add a comment on a wall and wait for a response. I can tell that strange Asian guy in a bra “Dude, that bra is working for you.” In a way, I am social networking.

It is nowhere near as organized as one of the other major social networking sites, but it works, and maybe it’s better. Socially interacting with total strangers seems to be a bold move, but it’s strangely making the world a smaller place which seems to be the overall goal for social networking sites. In the end, Chatroulette might not be the prettiest person at the party, but it’s the one you’ll have the most fun with.

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Sunil Ramsamooj