In late 2009, a Russian teenager quietly introduced Chatroulette to an unsuspecting Internet. In a few short months, word quickly spread throughout the world that the ability to video chat with random strangers across the globe was now a possibility.
Though a new technology, Chatroulette was a throwback to the dangerous, early days of the Internet–a time when Prodigy and AOL chatrooms were looked upon with fear by the news media and my parents didn’t let me stream 30-second clips from the new Blessed Union of Souls album on Music Boulevard without their presence in the computer room.
As hopeful technophiles wondered aloud what possibilities Chatroulette would bring to the burgeoning landscape of online P2P interaction, a few of the site’s users responded by pulling down their pants and masturbating feverishly, making sure to point their penises at their web cams. Others followed suit, and faster than you can say, “Ugh, what the hell?!?” Chatroulette was 90-percent penises. There were so many penises, in fact, that eventually the only time people would visit Chatroulette was on a drunken dare which would end in viewers shrieking, closing their web browser, hyperventilating, and confirming to others in the room that they had definitely just witnessed a penis on their computer screen.