Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chat Junkies

Go to a chat room, like ICQ 50 Something. Make your nick. Go there often. That’s how you become a regular. And join the chat! That’s what chat-rooms are for, and even though nowadays I rarely go to them, I was a regular in ICQ 50 Something for years, and known as Frappe.

I talked in English and sometimes French with people from Germany, Australia, Holland, Israel, Canada, England, Morocco, Brazil and from every part of the United States. Regulars would appear in the room usually at their established times. These times would shift as the world turns so that at different times different sets of regulars showed up in the room. I worked a graveyard shift for a security company and sat alone with a computer and chatted with nicks like Luv, Doggy, Hesperus, Mountain Man, Colorado Woman and Wildflower.  

We chatted for fun. Some of us became friends. I enjoy people with serious bents, who talk about politics or books and movies. I was flabbergasted when a friend in Germany claimed the Taliban to be little more than a cultural phenomenon. I replied I viewed them as a barbaric threat to Afghanistan. I respected this woman. She spoke French, German and English. Our differing views didn't upset our friendship, but I wondered if her take on the Taliban was shared by many in Europe.

When the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, the conversation of the entire room converged on that topic. Australia was enduring an historically severe drought and I had no idea until an Aussie regular explained how her farm and surrounding fields had long withered from lack of rain. The cyber world appears to bend cosmological rules. In chat rooms, you can live at the same time for hours with someone technically in your past or future.  

If you go into a room everyday using the same nick and chat, you get amazed at how much about a person you come to know. You get amazed at how much you share when you come to know and trust other regulars. You sit alone but you’re laughing at the same joke with people from around the world.

It gets enticing in the chat rooms. Country Girl and I had an  online romance that started in ICQ 50 Something. It was an entirely online and via telephone affair. One guy and gal who were long time regulars left the chat-room permanently and started living together.

Like any place where human interaction exists, the risk of injured feelings exists as well. I’ve seen instances where a nick abusively destroys the concord of a chat room. That’s why ICQ 50 Something has moderators with authority to kick a person out of the chat-room.