Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blog #3 - Chatroulette

Chatroulette is an interesting experience in that, broadly, the people I talked with fell into one of three categories: those trying it out of curiosity, those generally lonely and needing any interaction, and finally those who attempt to take advantage of the first two.

I tried Chatroulette when it was first launched, and since then the percentile of the first group seems to have dropped dramatically. The initial thrill of it has passed and its moment as the new "in" thing is long gone. As a result, I encountered only one person there "just to see what can happen", and that conversation was somewhat brief and ended when they "channel surfed" onwards.

The great majority of my hour-long experience were in the second two groups. Those who were lonely and/or bored were longer conversations. I talked with one woman who was at home with her baby, and talked about how it was dragg ing on her. She was more used to going out with friends and freedom than to obligation, and Chatroulette gave her an outlet. I talked with another man who was angry about being home on a Friday evening and how hard it is to find a "rational" person to talk to at a bar. Based on that conversation, I could see why he had trouble finding prolonged interaction. The third conversation was with someone I could have easily seen being in the class with us, talking because they wanted to talk and this seemed like an easy way.

The third group was easy to pick up on as the manipulative. They were the ones who would flip away as soon as you'd say no to anything. From my experience with poker, you can see a lot about a person's motivation from subtle facial ticks, their pulse. When I saw people making obvious small talk before going to what they wanted, I could tell they were going to make an ask based on when their pulse starts picking up. There was only one sexual ask, but there were asks about getting phone numbers, other contact information, help with filling out some contest. These conversations would end as soon as the ask was denied.

Overall, the experience was pretty much what I expected from past experience. Some of the specific details had changed, but overall its the same experience.

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