I received a letter yesterday from The Circle, the UK’s most trusted psychic reading service (their words, not mine) informing me I’m now a member of their club, it was at that point I realised I maybe signed up to quite a few organisations by the end of the year. I’m probably going to have to review the junk settings on my email account.
I used to be good with computers. The first computer that my Dad gave me on my eighth birthday, certainly the highlight of the birthday, was an Amstrad CPC 64. Computing was much easier back then, all you had to do was insert a game cassette (Dizzy and Paperboy were my favourites) into the tape deck attached to the keyboard, wait ten to twenty minutes for the data to upload, then read a message on the screen stating ‘Error’, turn the computer off and then go out to play – easy.
Computer Technology has changed vastly since I was eight. Today, thanks to the internet, you can do anything online; problem is they keep changing it so I don’t know how to do it. I’ve often looked at the text cursor flashing at the start of the Google search bar and thought to myself I can do so many things on this internet, I can go anywhere, do anything, become anyone (all virtual of course) and then realised I’ve absolutely no idea what to search for.
It’s was only the ninth day of my attempt to do a year’s worth of new stuff but already felt I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough – I needed to get out of my comfort zone more. I wanted to become less awkward meeting new people, so decided to achieve this I’ll have to chat to more strangers. Unfortunately being as lazy as I am I couldn’t be bothered to leave the house, but luckily I didn’t have to because the internet is full of strangers, billions of them and some stranger than others.
My friend suggested I try Chat Room Roulette, a website that allows you to connect with a stranger at random anywhere in the world using just your computer, webcam and microphone. All you have to do is click Start and a stranger will appear on your screen staring back at you, ready to chat. I was nervous. For some reason I went to the bathroom and shaved my slightly overgrown face, I’m not sure why but I think I didn’t want to look like an internet pervert. Whilst I was in the bathroom I ended up brushing my teeth as well, I guess you can’t brush your teeth too many times. On reflection I really didn’t need to worry want I looked like.
So I was ready for my first Chat Room chat. I sat in front of my webcam and clicked Start, for a short while the screen said ‘finding partner’, and then the first stranger appears and I must admit they took me slightly by surprise. Initially on the screen I saw what I thought was a very frightened skinny little mouse being petted lovingly by it’s caring owner, until I realised that in fact the mouse WAS the owner. I turned off the computer immediately and stared blankly at my living room wall for a good five minutes.
I eventually decided to go back on to Chat Room Roulette to give it one last chance, whilst at the same time wishing I’d paid for the renewal of the Antivirus Software that my computer’s alert box bangs on about every day. Chat Room Roulette seemed like a wonderful idea to me, before I went on it, a chance for all people of all nations to come together (not in the seedy way) and form one single virtual nation where the great and the good could be discussed. In my opinion, and only based on that day’s experience, internet chat rooms seem like lonely places rather than friendly places. After forty minutes I had spoken to no one and had seen a lot of brief but sad live video images of half-naked tired and desperate looking men. At one point a women appeared on my screen, she looked at me, rolled her eyes and then disappeared. It occurred to me that my image may have also appeared to everyone else like a tired and desperate (but not half-naked) looking man. Not ever wanting to be that person I simply turned my computer off and thought wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just go out to play.
I think we humans seem to go out of our way to ruin our greatest innovations, meaning sadly internet webcam chat rooms weren’t going to help me converse with strangers. If I wanted to talk to strangers I was going to have to stop my laziness and leave the house. The next day’s new thing began to form in my head…