Ever since technology has started to replace tasks and functions formerly done by actual people, some have wondered – at what point does all this stuff start changing the way we relate to each other? It sounds a little alarmist, but who can honestly say that their smartphone hasn’t altered the way they interact with friends, family, and pretty much everyone else? That being said, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, who would trade in their texting, phone calls, and emails for snail-mail delivered by men on horses?
At some point you just have to accept that times are changing, and grow along with them. There are now dozens of different ways to talk to people without being there in person – and that includes chatting with people you’ve never even met. Random video chat sites like Camgo, for example, allow countless strangers to meet each other every single day. It’s a much different dynamic than most other interactions, but with millions of people using random chat sites, you know there must be something to it.
Random video chatting is sometimes characterized as an offshoot of what the typical social interaction should look like. But is that really fair? Maybe random chatting is actually something unique.
In-person interactions: pros and cons
- You can have more confidence in the other person. When you’re talking with someone who’s right there with you, it’s much easier to get a measure of who they are. Body language and overall mannerisms can tell you a lot, but most people also have some mysterious extra sense to determine what kind of person their new friend really is.
- You have plenty of options for recreation, bonding, or anything else that comes up. Video chatting is a pretty versatile medium, but the fact remains that you’re still separated from your chat partner at all times. If you’re together, however, you don’t have to think of clever hacks to make something work in a video chat format, and your experiences will be more memorable because they happened while you were physically together.
- It can be difficult to meet new people, especially if you experience social anxiety on a regular basis. If the only option is going out and mingling with strangers in a social setting, it could simply never happen. The best-case scenario is that you still have something like an active social life, but making yourself leave the house is like pulling teeth. Social anxiety won’t necessarily prevent you from ever making friends, but it can definitely impact the number of friends you have, and how often you actually see them.
- People expect you to have friends and generally be a part of society, but there are only a few scenarios that are considered an appropriate way to approach strangers. It may depend on what things are like in your area, but most people aren’t interested in anything more than a passing “isn’t the weather nice today”. Go beyond that, and you may get some funny looks. In other words, it’s way too easy to step on people’s toes in the process of simply being friendly. Plus, there’s a very good chance that you’ll get more than funny looks; you could get pointedly ignored instead.
Random chat interactions: pros and cons
- The expectations are low, so the social pressure is too. We don’t usually frame “low expectations” in a positive light, but in this case it definitely works out to your advantage. One of the biggest factors in social anxiety is the assumption that you’re probably being judged for everything you do (whether that’s true or not); if you’re random video chatting, though, your chat partner probably genuinely doesn’t care what you do, as long as it’s basically entertaining or enjoyable. As a matter of fact, quite a few people have noticed their social anxiety lessening after being able to practice their conversational skills in the low-pressure environment of random chats.
- You’ll never be short of new people and new conversations. Whether you just don’t have the nerve to go out and meet people, or your hometown simply has very little to offer in terms of variety, it can be tough to break out of the same old routine with the same old people. On a random chat site, however, you never have to worry about running out of people to chat with.
- It’s trickier to know for sure who’s in front of you in a random chat. Sure, you can still see their face and read their body language, but you don’t get to see the rest of their life; everything you know about them is what they’ve decided to show you on their webcam. There’s a reason why you can find identity scammers on random chat sites – it’s a lot easier to misrepresent your intentions to people if you aren’t talking in person.
- The webcam chat format can be limiting for your chat-based friendships. It’s possible to both start and foster new friendships via video chat, but you’ll have to get creative in order to prevent things from getting stale. You won’t be able to hop over to your favorite pizza place, catch a local concert, or meet up at each other’s houses for weekend football games. There are plenty of other things you can do, but they’ll probably take a little more planning to pull off.
As you can see, one kind of communication isn’t necessarily better than the other. The answer really depends on your own personal preferences, not on which one has been around longer.
At the end of the day, shouldn’t communication between friends be about spontaneity and self-expression? For that reason, you should be able to decide for yourself whether in-person or video chat conversations work best for you. It’s time to stop viewing random chatting as a second-rate choice, or as an alternative to the typical interaction. Instead, maybe we could consider it to be a modern extension of the way we form relationships.