Taking your chances with chatroulette
Published: Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 22:11
Almost everyone has a Chatroulette story, or has a friend with one, or knows a kid who knows a kid who saw some messed up stuff while on the site. And that, in and of itself, is one of the reasons that Chatroulette has continued to be one of the most popular sites for people to visit. There is a silent understanding among everyone who logs onto Chatroulette: this will not end well. And 99 percent of the time, it does not end well. All the stories are true. Chatroulette is one huge smorgasbord of unwanted penises. Not even nice-looking penises, either, but old man penises. Yet, despite this, it continues to be a popular site for students to log onto.
Much like the awfulness of the "Two Girls, One Cup" video, it is a type of horror that is almost like an initiation. Once you've survived the onslaught of penises that Chatroulette provides, it is as though you're part of this secret little community, filled with disgusting stories and unseemly things. Also, we've all heard the stories of normal, everyday people who log onto Chatroulette and the next thing they know they're face-to-face with Paris Hilton or Ashton Kutcher.
Students on the FGCU campus seem to be divided on Chatroulette. There were those who tried it and thought it was funny. Rachel Bennett, 19, a communications major, says, "I've used Chatroulette once. It was hysterical. I would definitely use it again, but never alone. I'll only use it with my friends."
However, there are those who have heard the stories who remain uninterested, despite what they may or may not see.
Shannon Saunders, 22, a business management major, says, "No, I have not used Chatroulette. I have friends in real life and don't need to chat with random people online. I've heard of creepy people and people having sex. Nothing that would interest me so I haven't had the urge to try it. I might try it one time just to see what it's like, but I would freak out if I saw some naked creep pop up on my screen."
However, it is safe to assume that the site was not created with the intention of showcasing strange men pleasuring themselves in front of strangers from all over the world.
Chatroulette was created by Andrey Turnovskiy, a 17-year-old high school senior from Moscow, Russia, in November 2009. The idea came to him due in part to video chatting on Skype, and he mapped out the first version of the then-unnamed site in two days. Turnovskiy chose the name Chatroulette after being influenced by the pivotal scene in "The Deer Hunter" in which Vietnam war prisoners are forced to play Russian roulette.
Soon after launching, it exploded on the Internet. With an initial 500 visitors a day when it first debuted, traffic at the site is now up to 1.5 million users a day.
And much like the car crash that causes drivers to slow down and peer out their windows — all the while knowing they are definitely not going to like what they see, they're going to regret doing it and they're going to feel slightly icky for the rest of the day — Chatroulette is something people still find themselves drawn to.
"South Park" summed it up best with a skit that included Cartman and Kyle logging onto the site, when Cartman says, "Penis. Penis. Penis. Penis. Oh, look. Here's a guy. Oh…and now he's taking out his penis." So, despite being created with the intention of providing a gathering space for people all over the world to share their thoughts and ideas, it has sadly turned into a game of "Around the World: Penis Edition."