Yes, Virginia, There are Normal People in Cyberspace
A Profile of Internet Chatters
By: Matthew Mutchler
Big Beautiful Women, 25 Bi & Curious F4M, The Tavern of Goth, BBW 4 Sexy Chat, Naked M Needs Help Stroking. These are just a few of the "tamer" examples of user-defined chat rooms I popped into in my search for interesting people to talk to online. Fortunately, I found that there are people online who are looking for more than cybersex.
From World Wide Web based chat rooms to personal programs such as ICQ (short for "I seek you"), there are many avenues to meet people online. There are also many different types of people to meet. One can chat with people sharing specific interests, but for the adventurous, random chatting is also possible. Having several friends who enjoy chatting online, I have heard many stories about interesting people they have met. On the other hand, I have also heard stories about all the people who are simply looking for cybersex.
Sensing my skepticism, a friend of mine told me about someone he met online, and still talks to frequently. My friend works for a prominent Internet firm, and his responsibilities include popping in and out of the chat rooms as a silent monitor. However, once in a while, his love for chatting takes over.
|One evening he entered a chat room and decided to try some cheesy opening lines to see whod bite. He picked a user with "angel" in her screen name. "What makes you an angel?" he asked. She answered, I feel as though I need closer guidance to God." Automatically, my friend thought she was weird, but as the conversation went on, he learned things about this woman that made him want to know more. He spent seven hours talking to her, and after their conversation they became online pen pals, who now consider themselves "cyberbuddies."||He spent seven hours talking to her, and after their conversation they became online pen pals, who now consider themselves "cyberbuddies."|
Given hope to find somebody interesting, I sat down at my computer and connected to the Internet. Since I had already used ICQ to communicate with friends, I decided to use the random chat feature it offers. Within minutes, I received a message from someone who asked if I was male or female. When I responded that I was male, he didnt write back. Hmm . . . I wonder what he was after. A little discouraged, I added a note to my personal profile on ICQ that said I was a male college student writing an article about the people one can meet online. Then I crossed my fingers and waited.
The next message I got was "Hey there, Im a single mom who teaches in Colorado Springs. Id be happy to help you with your article." Hallelujah! Being relatively new to chatting with strangers, I asked my new chat partner to tell me a bit about herself. Lannie is a single mother of a 12 year old girl, Angela, and guardian to a "very ugly dog named Rufus." Shes also a kindergarten teacher, and teacher Spanish to elementary school children as well.
Since some of the work I do as a psychology student also involves kindergartners, we found common ground, and eventually started talking about the cute little "gifts" the children sometimes give. Between the Valentines Day cards Ive received, and the bright red lipstick and sticker-covered soap shes been given, it seemed that the children I know were very similar to Lannies students. However, this was not the case.
"The school I work at is very poor. Many of my kids dont have water or electricity." Some of them live in campers or tents, and Lannie said "We also battle head lice and just plain filth." But poor health isnt the only problem facing her students. Their poverty causes their schoolwork to suffer, too. "Parents are uneducated and its very difficult for them to understand that their children will never get out of the circle without a valid education. We [teachers] battle a welfare attitude; many of our students do just enough to get by."
Later in our conversation, Lannie explained more about her other serious responsibilityAngela. She freely admitted that she was "a dumb college student who got involved with the wrong guy." She drops Angela off to stay with her grandmother, and picks her up there after work. She speaks of her daughter, an honor student, with great pride, and thinks Angela appreciates her own situation more because of the condition of her mothers students. "Angela comes to school with me when she has days off and sees things firsthand. She realizes that she is pretty lucky in comparison. We also volunteer at a local food ministry. I think its good for her to realize what she has and to be thankful."
My experience with Lannie showed me that if you know where to look, you can easily find people who want wholesome, interesting, G-rated conversations. From love lines to random chat, everybody is looking for the same thinghuman interaction. The way each individual accomplishes this varies greatly, but the same basic principle appliesthe need to feel wanted and accepted.