First it was texting, then it was connecting through social media, and now it’s random video chatting – with about a hundred other methods of communication in between. There are always comparisons between technology-based interactions and good old-fashioned face-to-face talking, and these comparisons rarely turn out in favor of the technology.
Is that totally fair, though? If you go to a random chat site like Camgo, you’ll find all kinds of people sharing stories, spending time together, and generally having fun. Is that really so different from the kind of conversations that have been happening since before recorded history? Of course, part of the controversy comes from the concern that innovations like random video chatting will end up irreversibly altering the way humans connect with each other. The jury will probably be out on that one for a while, but in the meantime, here’s another question – if it does change the way we connect with each other, is that such a terrible thing?
When compared to everyday person-to-person interaction, video chatting is usually painted as an alternative rather than its own thing. Is that accurate, or is it time to recognize random video chatting as something that has its own unspoken rules and conventions? Maybe a side-by-side comparison will help clear things up.
Cons of in-person interactions
- Social anxiety prevents many people from engaging in everyday activities, so without another option, they’re pretty much on their own. Before the invention of the Internet and hundreds of ways to connect with people online, in-person interaction was the only choice – you either made it happen, or it didn’t happen at all. This doesn’t always prevent people from having a social life, but it can definitely make it more difficult.
- If you try to make a connection with someone you don’t know, the result isn’t always worth the cost. And what would that cost be? First, you have to figure out whether or not they’re open to talking to you – or just hope they are. Then you have to actually strike up a conversation out of the blue, which is pretty tricky for most people. On the off-chance that they are open to talking to you, and they do appreciate your company, that means success. However, a more common outcome is that you get rebuffed and leave, vowing to never repeat the experience.
Pros of in-person interactions
- Your activities roster can be as full and varied as you both have time for. You aren’t limited by what you can do over a webcam, so you can go on weekend trips, visit each other’s houses, head over to the bar on a Friday night – you name it. In other words, you can spend time together without consciously trying to make it work. Plus, everything will be in 3D!
- It’s easier to really know the other person. As you build a friendship, you’ll both eventually share more and more about yourselves. The thing is, it’s harder to feel 100% confident when you have to just take them at their word. If you’re spending time with them in person, though, you’ll be able to make the connection between how they represent themselves, and the way they actually live.
Cons of random chat interactions
- You have to work harder to keep a relationship going if your main tool is video chatting. Yes, you can absolutely get up to all kinds of fun with your online friend; the drawback is that you have to be a lot more creative in order to keep things fresh. Not to mention the fact that you’ll have to give up a lot of typical “friend” activities, like casual weekend visits, or going to see the latest action flick together. Another potential drawback could come from your chosen chat site since not all of them give you the choice to stay connected after a chat has ended. If you aren’t planning on finding a long-term friend via random chatting then that isn’t an issue, but some people could find it limiting.
- If you’re random video chatting, there’s always a small chance that your chat partner is actually a scammer or a troll. Sure, this can happen in real life too, but the odds are somewhat better if you’re on a random chat site. It shouldn’t be enough of a concern to keep you from enjoying random chatting, but the simple act of being cautious around your chat partners could put a bit of a damper on your conversations.
Pros of random chat interactions
- A chat will never feel like a high-stakes interaction because there’s always a new one waiting at the click of a button. You won’t have the thought in the back of your head that you’d better get it right this time, because who knows when the next chance will come. If you wanted, the next chance could be right in front of you in a matter of seconds!
- Random video chats offer a low-pressure environment for anyone who has a hard time pulling off in-person conversations with strangers. How does this work? Because nobody expects you to be particularly coherent, clever, or witty. In fact, even if you feel like you’re pretty clumsy in social situations, you probably won’t even stand out to your chat partners. Since you won’t have to worry about anyone evaluating your social skills, it’s easier to relax and give yourself the chance to enjoy the chat, instead of constantly wondering how you’re doing.
So, what do you think? Are the two things totally separate, or are they just the same thing in different packaging?
At the end of the day, this whole debate might just boil down to a matter of semantics. Even so, it’s an interesting puzzle. Is random video chatting the new “let’s grab coffee”, or is it a past-time that’s the product of internet entrepreneurs? Whatever you happen to think, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: random video chatting won’t be disappearing anytime soon!