I try to keep up with the posts on the HSW blogs, and today I was actually stunned by this one by Jonathan Strickland:
Not by what he said, or by the fact that Omegle exists, but by the fact that anyone would use it. Here's the description given of Omegle:
What is Omegle? It's a chat room that pairs you randomly with someone else. Both chatters are anonymous, identified only by the handle “Stranger.” You can chat about anything you like. You can share data or talk about the weather. You can make a new friend or frustrate a stranger until he or she chooses to disconnect from the conversation. It's pretty much a free-for-all.
I'm stunned by Omegle in the same way that I am stunned when I read that tens of millions of people are paying to play World of Warcraft, and that the average WoW player is wasting 22 hours per week on the game.
Why am I stunned? Have you ever heard an advice columnist talk to someone who is totally strung out on drugs, or completely involved in a gambling addiction? The columnist might say, "hey, if you have spent so much money on your habit that you can't pay the rent and you've been evicted, that's a warning sign that you may want to seek help." In the same way, if you find that you are spending 20 hours a week on WoW, or that you think that random anonymous conversations with strangers in Omegle is a good idea, then it might be time to take stock of your life. As this article points out, "internet addicts typically lied to parents and family, neglected their friends and had poor social relationships."
If you are in the kind of place where Omegle is sounding appealing, Just Say No to Omegle! Here are some options to consider:
1) Instead of talking to random strangers in Omegle, what about talking to the real people around you? For example, introducing yourself and meeting your neighbors, colleagues at work, or even folks down at the local bar?
2) How about reconnecting with real people already in your life, like friends and family? Surely they have something to talk about.
3) What about setting a goal and trying to accomplish something interesting? For example, setting a goal of making a million dollars, running a marathon, buying a house, or creating a new world record?
4) Or what about volunteering? You can meet lots of folks and help other people in the process. You can join a political campaign, work at the animal shelter, become a Big Brother or Big Sister, help the homeless, join an environmental group, build with Habitat for Humanity, etc.
5) Could you take a class in something that really interests you at a local community college or university?
6) What about joining a club? A hiking club, a robot club, a club for people flying RC planes or huge stratospheric model rockets, a car club, a bike club, or whatever interests you?
7) What about art? Make any kind of art and then display it. Painting, sculpture, photography, kinetic art, folk art, poetry, pottery, mobiles....
8 ) Or a DIY project?
9) What about Karate or some other martial art? That would let you protect yourself if you ever find yourself in a bad place.
10) Can you rebuild an old house, an old car, an antique dresser, an old computer or something else?
11) What about adopting a kid? Believe me, kids will totally change your life...
12) Or, if you really do want to talk anonymously to strangers on the Internet, what about finding an online forum where people are talking about something useful (not WoW!) that interests you? There are millions of forums on the Internet and many of them are populated with folks who know tons about the given topic. Ask them questions. Learn by reading other posts. You might be surprised by what you discover. Then go apply your new skills with real people in the real world.
In other words, if you are thinking about trying Omegle, there has GOT to be something better out there for you to try. Let Omegle or WoW be an indicator that you are reaching bottom. Think about it before you type that URL.
This public service announcement brought to you by the Council Against Internet Addiction.