Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Chatroom - Then & Now

I discovered chatting back in 1999 when I started working for a R&D unit of a US based product development company. Like most startups, the work took its own sweet time to flow down, till then we were asked to update our skills and so some self study and send daily reports of what we learnt. The team comprised of three women and each of us was equally innovative, creative and naughty when it came to sending daily timesheets. Needless to say that with the luxury of an ISDN high speed internet connection, all we did was chat. It was like a drug, an addiction which always left us wanting more. I discovered the true meaning of the word 'disconnection' back then.

MSN Chat rooms were my favorite haunt (not sure if they exist now); it seemed like my gateway to the world, so many different people from so many different places who were quite eager to exchange views. I met a fireman from New York who had lost his girl friend in a fire, an engineer who specialized in lift doors, I have always been petrified of getting stuck in between but he reassured me that there is nothing to worry! I met a stand up comedian from South Africa and a Dutch fashion photographer who worked for JP Gaultier. The Indians were very forgettable barring one, who was working in Brunei. Maybe it’s not fair to generalize but I found that people outside India were quite willing to have general conversations but people from India were mostly looking for some 'cyber'.

Work and the Boss's strict eye cured us of our chat addiction soon enough, the withdrawal symptoms were worse than that of alcohol or drugs though! Idle curiosity took me to a Yahoo chat room recently, the differences are as follows: now all people are looking for 'cyber', same sex preferences are openly evident and so are fetishes and queerness of all kinds, its a happy hunting ground for pimps who 'sell' their 'variety' online. Another new phenomenon struck me as laughable, male prostitutes; men have at last caught up on the last female bastion! Obviously these days the chat rooms are not a place for cross cultural exchanges but more a place to feed baser instincts, enter at your own risk!

15 comments:

rishabh_flop_ruler said...

Chatrooms were always filled with people trying to get "cyber". Do you know WHY MSN chat isnt open to the general public nowadays?
Probably in 1999, the exposure wasnt there, now a days everything has a dot com attached to it.
To some extent it also depends on what nickname you write for your self in these rooms, and the rooms you are entering in. Though I agree, Yahoo dot com is crap now.

Just another Blogger said...

I discovered chatting in around 2000-01, probably was too young for it then, & that time too most of men or rather boys(Indians or otherwise) were looking for "cyber". Haven't been to a chat for about a year now, discovered ORKUT a few months back... & now have sort of a small family on of the communities there. Sounds strange but its true. Would admit its addictive like chatting or perhaps even more.. but And I feel so glad that I left chatting for something like this!

rishabh_flop_ruler said...

i agree .woohoo to orkut!

Sue said...

I know what you mean, time was when I used to log in every night and see what the world was saying. Had regular chat friends and stuff. That was way back in '98, '99.

Now things are so different, I occasionally get surprised when someone new to chat enthuses about it. I don't mean to sound aged, but the fun people have really abandoned it. My theory is that they are all turning to blogging :-D

ichatteralot said...

@Rishabh: No clue - why? Yahoo has discontinued with user rooms - thank god for that. But general chat rooms are pretty much the same.

@Just Another Blogger: Chatting is an addiction which usually will fade over time. Now the a/s/l question makes me puke!

@Sue: Its not age, its outgrowing things. Totally agree, blogging is a far better way to express and share ideas. We are the smarter ones!

rishabh_flop_ruler said...

well, 2 girls met a guy on msn, trusted him, got killed, need i say more?

Sandeep Meher said...

my first chat was from a unisys m/f terminal (those small black screens with green letters) using a telnet connection to cyberspace.org - they had a party hall with all sorts of people. it was indeed entertaining. anyway those were the only public chats i hooked into. and i agree blogging is much better :-)

Nautilus said...

Oh, I so know what you mean! Through '99 and '00 I chatted like there's no tomorrow :-) There used to be a Bengali chatroom in Indiatimes...met a lot of people there. Met some of them in person too! Of course, there'd be people asking for "cyber" every now and then, but we had a group, very close-knit. It was great fun while it lasted...but after sometime, the novelty wore off and other priorities in life demanded a lot more attention! Haven't been to a chatroom in ages...

Nidhi said...

hey i have been to your blog off and on...and must say i love reading all that you write...you actually share slices from your life, the daily grunge and the past .....

Its so interesting to read of thimes past , which i have not experienced and also of things that you have done and the newness......

Nice nice :)

ichatteralot said...

@Rishabh: No wonder! SCARY...

@Sandeep: Public chats were more fun, now that seems to have evaporated altogether.

@Nautilus: I know! Even I used to frequent the Indiatimes bengali chat roms - it was fun. You are right - priorities change, demand son one's time increases and interests change as well. Well you can go into one and experience th emess for yourself!

@Nidhi: Thanks Nidhi! I am floored :)

that girl in pink said...

oh man! i remember my chatting days...way back in '97. i was so naive, i believed everything people said. then one day one of my friend's actually met up with this guy she'd been chatting with. Hmm...the internet sure can be misleading.

agree with sue & you--the cool ones all upgraded to blogging. :-)

Kausum said...

I started chatting around '99 and we had a colleague who used to be interested in chatting with girls in chatrooms. Once he met someone neat to our office and was quite excited about it. This prompted him to chat with more gusto. We decided to have fun with this and the next 2 girls he promised to meet near where he stayed were - you know who -- .. When he got stood up for the date and we revealed our identities, I saw a drastic drop in his chatting activities.

Currently, he hardly is ever on chat unless he is abroad on projects.

ichatteralot said...

@That girl in pink: You bet - many of my friends have met their chat friends too - one of them went into a perennial depression after that and we had to console her!

@Kausum: I would have loved to see the incident :D

Kausum said...

@the girl in pink: The cool ones did not graduate to blogging. They moved over to Orkut. Where identitites cannot be hidden so well. Try for yourself.

Bloggers are the ones who need more intellectual stimulation which they do not get from chatting or orkutting.

rishabh_flop_ruler said...

kausum: you make it sound as if chatting and orkutting is for duffers. agreed there are a lot of losers out there, but as i have realised orkut has made me has INTELLECTUAL convos with many people from IIT's, universities abroad. In orkut it depends which community you join, just as in a chat room it depends which room you join. If you join a room in a chat room called Quantum Mechanics or Walks Of Life or Home Improvement, you have less chance of finding a nymph, than if you get into the "The Hot Tub"
And blogging doesnt require all that much intellect(i mean so much intellect that orkutting will hamper it), you arent working on a rocket project you know , you're merely jotting down u r thoughts on issues which concern you or experiences from daily life.