The first time “Hung.,” a 24-year-old from the UK, used Chatroulette to masturbate in front of a stranger, he was in college, late in his teens or perhaps early in his 20s.He doesn’t have many details to share about the experience, besides a few recalled feelings. “It was hot, it always is when you finally find someone.” Hung., whose profile photo is an upward angle shot of a large penis, says he doesn’t use the site for masturbation “really often.” When he does, he says it’s rare to find women who are up for participating.The site is, predictably, largely male — or, as he puts it, “the sausage to pussy ration is ridiculous ...if you do [meet a woman], they probably don’t want what I want.” Therein lies a large part of the problem with Chatroulette, a site once hailed as a friendly place to meet strangers from all over the world. It was profiled religiously, as was its eventual rise and decline in popularity.By June of that year, reporters had gone from singing its praise as “the future of the internet” to writing its obituary (“Cause of death: penises”).The frenzy around it died as numbers began to decline from the tens of thousands to mere thousands, and coverage waned.Its name resurfaced over the years as a curiosity for those who went through the same “hey, remember when? Browsing the site today, you’ll find an interface slightly more sleek than the original AIM-like screen.It’s been eight years since the site’s supposed death, but a small community persists.
Between the occasional, curious user who is truly interested in just chatting, are the ones everyone has come to expect: the on-cam men jerking off.someone would want to jerk off in front of a stranger is sort of an exhibitionist self-definition in itself: because you get to jerk off in front of a stranger.As one user put it, there’s freedom in knowing you’ve never met this person and probably never will.“This site and others like it are what happens when you give people anonymity,” says Ryan, a user from Pennsylvania.
“I could whip it out right now for you, and as long as I don’t show my face to you, I could walk by you tomorrow on the street and you would never know it was the same person.” But the conundrum of Chatroulette as it exists today is how often men vehemently deny to me that they masturbate in front of other men, and how few women there actually are on the service.
Over and over, I asked users currently in the act why they use the platform to find women when they’re the first to admit there are so few. “I wish they would give me a warning before throwing that in my face, but whatever. You’ll see worse things.” He says he will, however, report anyone spreading hate messages or committing violence.