Pros and Cons of Random Chatting vs. Real-Life Interactions

From the invention of the very first telephone to the popularization of random video chatting, each technological development that’s supposed to aid communication has gotten its share of backlash. Even if most people support it, there’s always a vocal minority pointing out any and all drawbacks – often because they simply don’t want to see anything change. 

That’s understandable, but it’s important to realize that humans have been re-inventing themselves since the beginning of recorded history. If technologies have come along to alter the way we relate to each other, maybe it’s time to see them for their benefits as well as their flaws. If you’re on a chat site like Camgo, for example, you’ll probably have plenty of fun…and you’ll probably run into a few sketchy characters too. That’s just how it works. The question is, can anyone really say that random video chatting is only a second-rate substitute for “real” interactions, or does it deserve its own recognition?

With that question in mind, here’s a comparison of how random chatting stacks up against in-person interactions. As you’ll see, the answer might not be as straightforward as you think. 

Pros of video chat interactions

  • You don’t have to deal with the usual social pressures, because your chat partners don’t expect anything in particular from you. A lot of anxiety can proceed from the thought that whoever you’re talking to is silently judging you; in many cases, this is probably a legitimate fear. If you’re random video chatting, however, you’re one individual in a sea of people who defy categorization. With so many potential chat partners, people have to be open-minded about who they’re talking to – otherwise, they’d spend all their mental effort trying to evaluate exactly what’s going on in an unpredictable chat. 

  • There’s always a fresh start available in the form of a new chat. Getting rejected in a social situation can put a real damper on your desire to expand your social circle, but the dynamic is much different on random chat sites. You’ll still get rejected, sure, but it’s relatively painless, and there are zero consequences. Nobody you talk to will have any idea how you were received by previous chat partners, so they’re starting the conversation with no judgments on your social value. 

Cons of video chat interactions

  • It’s more difficult to build trust when your entire experience with them consists of their face on your screen. Plus, there’s a real risk of identity scammers on random chat sites, and the fact that you’ll always have to keep a weather eye out for red flags can take a bit of the zest out of meeting someone new. Sure, you can get scammed in the real world as well – but it’s definitely more common online. 

  • Your chat-based relationships are harder to build than if you were able to be together in person. Video chats are definitely versatile, and there’s a lot you can do as friends to bond with each other, but the fact remains that you’re still going to miss out on a lot of activities. Friday-night hangouts around the grill, catching the latest blockbuster or planning to see a concert can’t really happen with online relationships. This is assuming you can re-connect with people after ending your initial chat; some sites are only designed for randomized one-time interactions, which makes long-term friendships impossible. 

Pros of in-person interactions

  • Building trust is easier when you can spend time around the other person. As in, actually around them, not just talking to them on your screen. You can see that the way they live confirms what they say about themselves, whereas with chat-based relationships, you have to take most of what they say on faith.

  • Your options for fun activities are almost limitless. As long as you both have the time and the inclination, you can enjoy all the weekend get-togethers you want. You can come up with a plan, and not have to re-work it so it’ll be compatible with a video chat. If you and your friend are enjoying life together, not only will it feel more effortless, but your memories of the experience will feel much more complete. 

Cons of in-person interactions

  • Social anxiety frequently gets in the way of forming new friendships, or sometimes even maintaining old ones. Unfortunately, if your only options are real-world interactions or bust, this could mean that you’re simply out of luck. In most cases, though, the anxiety isn’t severe enough to actually prevent social interaction. Even so, it would probably affect you whenever you found yourself in an unfamiliar situation. You could still have a healthy friend group, but it would take a lot more work, and cost you a lot more mental effort.

  • Attempting to connect with someone new is complicated, difficult, and intimidating for most people. First, you have to come up with a reason – or an excuse – to approach them. Then you have to put your plan into action, and hope that you don’t get rebuffed or ignored. Also, you can’t just walk up to any random stranger in public; you’ll just get some funny looks and non-committal replies. People don’t expect to be approached except in very specific (usually social) contexts, so you could end up waiting a long time between opportunities to meet people.

Given the pros and cons of each type of interaction, it’s probably safe to say that one isn’t going to replace the other anytime soon. 

After all, isn’t that one of the concerns voiced by the naysayers – that random video chatting is affecting our ability to form meaningful relationships? On the one hand, it’s very appealing to do away with some of the restrictions of good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. On the other hand, random video chatting comes with some restrictions of its own. Rather than deciding which one is objectively better, maybe it’s time to admit that they’re both useful for different things, and let people decide for themselves which one they prefer.

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