1997 – 2001
This all began shortly after I first got connected to the internet, back in the fall of 1997. Thinking back it feels like a very long time ago, and it will be 20 years ago this coming fall (2017).
Anyway, at that time I had a slow and simple desktop computer (Compaq Presario) running Windows 95 and a very low internet connection speed ( at first a 33.6k and later on a 56k modem dial-up connection), which even made text chat participation slightly difficult at times. So, I only looked at some chat sites/pages in Swedish for very short periods of time. I didn’t find chatrooms very interesting even before the first curiosity about being online had faded, but I still used to return from time to time during the following years. Mostly to look at/read what was being said but not participating much. Not often did I type anything at all.
Most of the time, the people taking part in the chatting seemed to be very young (late teens and slightly older), but at that time of my still intact Internet innocence, I wasn’t yet familiar enough with the ways of the Internet to understand that anyone online could pretend to be just anyone and/or any gender or age other than their real life one, while hiding behind a nickname and lines of text in a chatroom.
Very soon I started to gradually learn the ways of the internet and more from reading magazine articles and online tutorials on the subject but most of all via the oldest and best method: trial and error.
This new knowledge lowered my interest in chat sites even more and for some years I didn’t participate in any chat at all. I had concluded it was rather useless to invest time in talking to people I couldn’t be sure of who they were, since I couldn’t see them. Even for fun it seemed to be a bit too much of a waste of time.
2001 – 2004
In 2001 I had the misfortune to suffer from a type of medical problem that forced me to spend most of my time at home and not walk around too much for several months while I was receiving regular medical treatment. This renewed my interest in exploring the internet world and the possibilities of online entertainment simply as a way to pass the time.
From games and other online amusements, through to learning about how to build and design and later also building my own websites, through to chat sites, I arrived at something that by that time was an all new concept to me: video/webcam chats /sites.
Some, if not most, of those sites were and still are, of an adult nature which means from this point onwards this text will have a slightly more “mature” theme. Any reader not comfortable with this, is recommended to stop reading further.
I would also like to point out to those who continue reading, that I won’t mention the names of any of the sites I’ve visited, or include any direct links or images connected to any of these sites in the text. Furthermore this text will not contain any graphic descriptions of what I’ve seen while on these sites or descriptions of the people I’ve seen and/or communicated with there. With all that said, I’ll now move on to the next part of my story.
My very first encounter with a video/webcam chat site – the kind were a paid model serves as a kind of hostess and displays some nudity in order to interest the chat room visitors to sign up for memberships to view the more advanced and costly services of the site – occurred in the summer of 2001. Due to my low connection speed, the image in the tiny video display window on the page was moving very slowly at best, but the idea of actually seeing someone on my screen while “talking”/typing to them was very appealing compared to chat rooms based on text only. So the fact that this site I had stumbled across offered video of at least one person in the chat room was the reason it became the first chat site I would actually begin to visit on a regular basis.
The chatroom was free for all to enter and mostly the room was full of people from all corners of the world, even if a majority of users at least seemed to be located in Western Europe or North America judging by how they expressed themselves. The chat was in English only, even if I soon learned that the studio in which the hostess worked was located in Prague, Czech Republic.
At first I didn’t participate much in the chat even if I liked having the possibility to practice my English skills, both in reading and typing. I was also feeling very insecure of how to participate, which today I simply have to laugh at, because in a room with about a hundred people “talking” at the same time and where all that anyone can see of you is your typed in words and your nickname (it was at this site my nickname Moonie was born out of my original choice Moonglow), what is there to be worried about ? Words know no shame.
Anyway that’s how it was right at the start, but as the hours and days progressed I learned a lot about how a chat room works and how to make myself noticed to the others and began to notice some other people and soon had some friendly conversations with a few participants, including a few of the hostesses. One could say I started to develop some social skills in the online world. At the same time I was learning to handle my social interaction problems which have been and still do bother me to various degrees in social interactive situations.
As time moved on, and the “few” hours spent online turned into whole days and sometimes nights, I found I liked to chat so much, I no longer cared about anything else around me. It became like an addiction, a drug. (Or, as I’m aware of now, a very special interest, typical of autism spectrum disorders) The outside world faded away and I got into some kind of cyberworld built around words on a screen and the hostess in the video window. The cost of being connected to the internet through dial-up went from very low to high,as I was paying a per minute price at that time.
I finally came back to my senses though. By then I had formed a friendship online with one Czech hostess (“Charon” *)** and also with one of the regular visitors of the site. The friendship with the hostess progressed through different channels of communication for about a year and a half and then it slowly faded out.
During that time I progressed from video/webcam chats of the free kind to also check out other forms of video/webcam chat where I had to pay to view by signing up as a member and/or purchase credit (viewing time). This exploration became very costly as it went ahead, but I formed yet another friendship with a Czech girl (“Emma”) and maintained it for a few years while having a lot of fun.
These years were for the most part a lot of fun, and I continued to chat a lot even after my medical problem had been cured and I could return to my regular job full-time. Being in chat rooms not only allowed me to meet and get to know some nice people from different countries, it also gave me a lot of insight into both the human and the business side of these commercial video/webcam chat sites. However after these first few years I felt it was about time to not spend all of – or most of – my spare time and spare money on these sites.
2004 – 2006
During 2004 I was once again forced to stay home from work for a longer period of time due to the same kind of medical problem as in 2001, which made it possible for me to start to chat a little more again in order to pass the time. By now I had upgraded my connection (ADSL) and bought a new computer (no brand) also, which made the experience of video chat much better and more enjoyable.
I now only had one person I used to chat with regularly – another Czech girl – (“Dianne/Lucky”). A part from that, though, my interest in this kind of chat had become more limited at this point. There were other interests I needed time for. Mostly those interests were about watching movies and building a collection of dvd movies.
In the spring of 2005 I discovered another form of chat related to video and webcams which was at a chat site that also worked as a community where other forms of interaction were possible (through forums, private messages, emails and such). This was a discovery that would eventually lead me to move away from the other types of chat sites and into this community, and the amateur nature of webcam chat along with it.
For me it was an all new idea to be able to be seen on my webcam and to not only watch others while being in chat rooms. The first 6 months were a total addiction much like the very first ever encounter with video chats sites years before. I got to know some members slightly, with one of them – (“Jessilane”) – being the primary reason for me to continue hanging around – and I immediately liked the community a lot. This blog was in fact started as a result of encounters with people at that community site, so it has had a big influence on me in many ways.
During 2005 and even more during 2006 my longtime online friend (“Dianne/Lucky”) and I began to drift apart due to me not having as much time to spend for chat and not having the same interest in it as before. My work, my membership at the community site, and my dvd collecting became more and more time and money consuming.
Yet, during this time, I did make one new brief acquaintance at one other video chat site but that one ended after only a few weeks of rather intense chat activity. I also formed another friendship of sorts during this time but even though it has been going on and off for a few years, it has never gotten to be much more than an acquaintance and is as of today not even active in that capacity. In fact I have now since a few years lost all contact with that person (“Jesyca”).
2006 – 2008
From the later half of 2006 until very recently (2008) I didn’t spend much of my spare time at chat sites of any kind. I didn’t feel much interest in or need to interact with anyone in that fashion. I was fed up with some of the aspects of what I had encountered, and I felt disappointed in myself and in some of my experiences.
Also I first became unexpectedly unemployed during this time (2006) and my focus shifted to job hunting for obvious reasons. Of course my ever-growing interest in movies also took time away from chat sites. The most important reason were the economic aspects. Being unemployed I needed to save money, so I could at times not even afford to be a paying member at the community site. Only now and then did I have a brief chat with my longtime online friend, but I didn’t feel it was the same or could ever be the same again as it used to be, which made me feel less interested in it as time went on. Then a few months ago I found myself missing the good times and social interaction I had in chat rooms and started to chat more with my friend and slowly it started to be fun again and reminded me of all good times I had had in the past.
While on the chat site one day I decided to chat to some other people working there just for fun and for passing some time on a slightly boring middle of the week evening. Much to my surprise I then happened to get acquainted with yet another nice person and suddenly going to chat rooms became the kind of excitement and fun it hadn’t been like for years. A new friendship had begun almost instantly . What will happen in the future I don’t know. What I do know is that being online in different chat rooms has taught me a lot about people and about myself that I would not want to be without. Even if it has in many ways been a costly way of learning.
2008 – 2009
The later half of 2008 saw me working a lot and my chat activity was at another low point after a very exciting spring. The latest friend I had made drifted away from the chat scene to other types of work, and so did I. After a while I started to become more involved at the community site again and found some people to chat to from time to time. Then when I became unemployed again I started to go to the community site even more frequently and also worked on updating this blog a bit more often.
The rest of the time I divided between job hunting and movie collecting. Eating and sleeping became less frequent. Or so my selective memory tells me.
During the last months of 2008 I found the community more and more interesting and fun, and I also found another community webcam chat site structured in a similar way, where I immediately signed up when I noticed some members there that I knew a little from the past. It was a happy coincidence.
This time also saw me finding my way back again – to my by now oldest online friend. Not that she herself is the oldest of my online friends but that she’s the one I’ve known for the longest time of those few people I consider as true online friends. I’ve always been and I still am very happy for this great friendship. (Even though at this point – 2014 and onwards – all contact between us has ended. Yet the friendship remains in fond memory.)
Right at the start of the new year I happened to meet someone at yet another webcam chat site which seemed to be a person worth getting to know better. However this encounter turned out to be very short-lived after a promising start and in the end wasn’t worth wasting much time on.
Later in the year 2009, however, I happened to be directed to yet another new site and while there I discovered some new people to chat with. So the story will go on.
The recent news is I find this new place very interesting. In all kinds of ways. The site features people from all parts of the world but I have yet to come across anyone on cam being located in my native country (have found a few since writing this though). Maybe at this place I might, because there are more Western European and North American models here than at any other site I ever visited before. Most of them seem to be participating from home which makes the whole experience more of a jungle in terms of what might happen on cam and in chat and who one might encounter in the chat rooms.
(Almost) No rules (except a few general and basic ones) seems to be the one rule or rather the law of the jungle. Everyone rules their rooms in their own way somewhat. This can be good thing if it’s done wisely but I feel it can also be bad in the long run. Easier for people to think they are being cheated in one way or another if there are few general site rules and no moderation (or very little) in the rooms. I learned since writing the above that there are rules at the site but that not many seem to always follow them nor are they always enforced by the site owners.
However, judging from my years of personal experience , the business side of these chat sites is kind of built on a portion of what might be seen as cheating, or rather I’d call it illusion.
The illusion of shared intimacy and the illusion of actually getting to know people you only see on a webcam and/or read what they type in a chat room window. [My opinion on this has gone back and forth a lot over time so while this was true when I wrote it, it has changed a bit again since then. Or rather I’ve had reason to modify my position several times due to new developments and insights. March 2010. And in late 2011, and in 2012 I have once more changed my mind about this aspect of the experience]
So why do I still enjoy these sites you might ask ? After all, I am an educated and intelligent guy, can’t I just go outside of my humble home and meet people “for real” instead? I can and I do, but I still like hanging out in chat rooms, especially the ones with streaming video and audio available . [Also, there are of course real people on/in front of the cams as well as there are behind each of the chat names of viewers/members participating. Just saying, in case someone thinks I haven’t grasped this fundamental fact yet. Note added 2010]
Besides, I think I stated it early on in this history of my chat life: sometimes the rewards are big enough to balance the drama, mistakes, misunderstandings, failures, frauds, cheats, and disappointments that inevitably can and will occur in the online world as well as in the offline, or ‘real’, world.
The internet is no different from any other part of society where human interaction takes place. I have made one really good and lasting ‘real’ friend from these chat sites and got to know a few other nice people more or less well over the years, and all of this has made it worth all the time (and money) spent.
[Latest edit: March 2010]
Later part of 2009 was another high in the experience of webcam chat when I explored the new site . Found people I knew of from other sites and also some new whose chatrooms I started to hang out in.
Being new at the site, it took some time to learn how things worked there and to make myself known and noticed. After a few weeks I started to follow the easiest way to make a name for myself: I spent money. A lot of money to be perfectly honest. The result was a rather quick rise to “fame”…well, at least I was noticed more by more people. Which is only natural and normal considering webcamming is a business from which many people make a living while having fun at the same time (or at least so it seems).
Although I’ve almost always been a customer/member and not only a visitor to these sites over the years, I never really felt like ‘only’ a customer before I joined this huge site in 2009. Not that I felt like I was treated like a pile of money instead of a person in every room I entered but in far too many of them that was the feeling I got.
As long as I had some money I didn’t always mind about this, but after most of the money ran out (due to reasons not related to my spending at this site) by the end of 2009 I started to notice how I was largely ignored when trying to chat with people. Even got banned and/or ridiculed in some rooms for being “poor”. All of this made me once again question why I even bothered going back there. However there were and are exceptions. My oldest and best friend still liked to chat with me even though I was poor and some others also didn’t seem to mind my new poverty at all but were friendly and enjoyed my contributions to the chatting.
This year – 2009 – I also had a bad experience that really made me question my grasp of reality and ability to understand and evaluate other people. I spent lots of time (and admittedly quite a lot of money) in one room with one person I had begun to chat with during the summer and soon started to regularly return to, due to the good company I’d found there. I honestly believed I had made a new true friend and there was no indication to suspect otherwise (if hadn’t been too blinded by my own expectations to see it, that is).
The chat was fun and there was hours of talking each day (and night). I thought I was being treated with real honesty and respect (which I was) so I even spent money on private conversations. Something I’ve rarely done over the years and mostly haven’t felt a need for if there is personal/private messaging available in a chatroom. Anyway all of this fun and friendship suddenly stopped one evening when my new friend did not appear on the site as expected. Suddenly she had vanished, never to appear there again. I waited. Looked around. Hoped for some message that would explain to me what had happened. Started to worry a lot about what could have happened. Then after about a month gave it up and then I felt used, cheated and made a fool of. My feelings had been abused and used. I should of course have seen it coming but I had thought myself to be a better judge of character than I turned out to be after having spent so many years at these sites. I also had only myself to blame for getting too involved and to carry myself away behaving like a fool without reason.
However, I might just have been very lucky that the one good friend I had made up to that point is the exception to the rule when it comes to honesty among workers in this business. I refuse to think so though. Instead I believe the person who took advantage of me and my trust in order to make money off of it, is an exception to the rule.
After getting over the hurt and humiliation I actually think of it as a sobering and useful experience. If it had happened when I first started going to these sites I would probably have stopped coming back at all or maybe believed in the lame excuses of the other person once I found them again – by accident – at another site, months later.
Now I am just a bit more wise and perhaps less naive than I used to be about these matters (Not really, see below). One other result of this incident was that I stopped visiting chatrooms of people from certain parts of the world and also avoid people not working from home (As if it was their fault). Doing these things does not guarantee I won’t let myself be taken advantage of again but at least it will make it a little less likely. And, to be clear, it’s not the money, people, it’s the dishonest way of using/playing my feelings and my trust in order to get at them that hurts me the most.
Have to add now, December 2011, that the above description of a “bad” experience puts the blame on the model when it was all my own doing. I did lead myself to read too much into it and wanted to believe my own fantasy due to the situation I was in at the time so that I lost touch with reality. Then I blamed someone else for using my trust when all they did was being nice to me (and in being nice they were in fact just doing their job). I am sorry it took me two years to clearly understand my error of thinking in this matter.
2010 – 2011
At the start of 2010 my life was at another low due to several reasons. The lowest I’ve ever been before or since. At one point I started to question why I should even go on living at all. Naturally this didn’t make me too keen on visiting chatrooms. Or maybe it did in a way. Provided some relief to focus on other things. Problem was I had very little money so it was not the same as the year before. Still, there were a few rooms where I was welcome so I went to those. Also by accident started to chat with some new faces at the site. Made very good friends for a time with one girl, a Canadian (“Katheryn”), and got mocked by another girl, also Canadian (who shall remain nameless), for my “poverty”. This made the start of 2010 a mixed blessing.
The best part of the year was regularly seeing my oldest friend and also some others I knew enough to hang out with from time to time… or so I thought until late July when I found myself browsing rooms of new faces at the site late one evening while having nothing better to do. Came upon the room of a pretty blonde wearing glasses (“Hayden Hart”) ,and after the first brief visit and chat I immediately wanted to return the next day and the next. So I did.
Had not had too much luck making any American friends at the site up to this point (except one briefly in 2009) but it seemed this was about to change. It did. Not straight away but soon enough. I even managed to start enjoying life a little bit more as time went on and summer turned into fall. The rest of the year went by fast and saw me regularly visiting only three or four chatrooms and being happy with doing that.
The start of the new year – 2011 – has been much like the end of last year. Maybe I’m now down to two or three regularly visited chatrooms with one of them being the absolute priority. I have fun in all rooms I visit, though.
Late summer and fall of 2011 saw me cutting down on my chat room visits to only 2 rooms, sometimes none at all if those 2 were not around. I also more or less lost contact with my long time online friend during this year. At first it was hard to accept but as time goes by I’ve learned to keep the memories and move forward. Late in December this may have changed again but it’s too early to tell for sure. Might also have been the final closing act of that part of my life.
However the lingering effect of this long and close online friendship has not been clear to me until very recently, as in early December 2011. I let it dictate my approach to all other online friends and potential friends I have happened to chat to both during the time that the old long time friendship was active and while it was fading out. Somehow I must have kept it as some kind of blueprint in the back of my mind for how I wished any new friendships would develop instead of understanding that what I had had might be a one of a kind experience given the kind of setting the online cam and chat sites are.
More than willing to forget the business aspect of it and thereby setting myself up for disappointment not by any fault by the people I met online but through my own non-realistic wishful thinking about things. I let myself go to far out of the reality and into imagination, wishes and dreams so that I failed to see what really was there and be happy, enjoy myself and have fun within the reality of the situation at hand.
One might say I stopped acting in a responsible adult way. Most likely this happened because I am not the most self-assured person. I doubt myself a lot and sometimes make too much out of things in both positive and negative ways due to being insecure.
So I repeatedly lost my grip and got carried away by taking things too seriously and forgetting to keep my feet on the ground. Now I really think I’ve learned the lesson I should have learned years ago (maybe as far back as 10 years ago) and for some time I actually know I had learned but after the loss of my one really close friend I guess I was too eager to replace or rather continue that relation with someone else, not stopping to think that this new friend might not be and of course is not at all the same person (obviously) and that the nature of any online friendship that could possibly develop would be totally different and that I should focus on that – the here and now – instead of somewhat live in the past the way I’ve been doing until very recently. Now all of this I understand is all my own fault and I do not in any way blame anyone else for my faulty thinking. I only wish I could have woke up and understood my faulty thinking in this matter sooner. Would have spared me a lot of worries and stupid words and actions. Not to mention some senseless displays of over the top emotional outbursts.
For the rest of this year and the time to come I hope my chat experiences will be fun and founded on reality instead of wishful thinking and memories of a past that can’t be relived.
2012 – 2013
Five months into the year things are pretty much the same as the end of last year. I’m enjoying spending time with my friends and having fun. I spend a lot less time on the site now and have begun to develop my other interests instead. All in all it makes me feel a lot more at ease. The way I look at most things now is a lot less serious. I’ve learned to laugh at the situations that used to make me mad. Also I keep getting to know my American friend better and this helps to keep me from thinking too much about my own problems. Instead I can relax and focus on someone else. Today chat rooms are my way of keeping in touch with friends and having fun hanging out. No longer an obsession or something that takes all my spare time. After more than 10 years of this experience I feel I have found the balance I’ve been looking for. Now I work on keeping it.
The start of 2014 has seen even less activity from me at the site. A part from seeing a few friends, I have not spent much active time there until very recently. Once again I have seen some new faces and made some new friends. This time around I’m all about enjoying myself , contributing to the fun and having a good time and that’s fine.
This year saw very little action from me, in terms of chat activity. Due the depression I suffered from for most of the year, I didn’t spend much time at the sites. Somehow not even my good friends there could bring me to go there much. I started to think the whole thing was over and done. At the very end of the year I started to enjoy it a little more but what brings me back to it, is the chat, having fun talking and hanging out.
What this current year will bring, is too early to determine, but I still hang out in a few rooms where I’m welcome, and sometimes I find someone new to talk to also.
While most of the year 2016 brought me some new friendly encounters and some good moments, it also became the year when I decided to end my participation in this type of social interaction and entertainment. Much due to the fact I seem unable to keep it on a balanced level for more than brief periods of time. After one last row of mistakes I decided it was time to finally end it all. Been a fun 15 years overall but in the end a bit too costly in more ways than one.
The things I search for I will have to look for elsewhere. I have now – at last – learned the hard way they can’t be found in the cam world. Probably, I was a fool to ever believe I could find it there. However, I did find one very good true friend for a number of years. And some other fine people I consider as friends.
So I thought last year would be the end of it all. It turns out I still return to the chatrooms from time to time. Far less frequent than ever but still, I do return there. However, my statement from last year still stands.
*) I know the spelling and the name is odd for being used by a cam girl but that’s how it was. At least my memory tells me this.
**) These are all screen names as far as I know.