"Chat rooms allow you to meet many people you do not know, and while this can lead to fun friendships, it can also be a way for people who mean you harm to gain access to you."
Chat rooms can be a fun, highly interactive part of the internet that can be enjoyed by many. They are quick ways to connect with lots of people that could become new friends. And there are probably millions out there. I think that anyone using a chat room should be able to do so in a safe way. You can meet new people with similar interests, make friends, and sometimes even find love. And yes, some people out there are looking for some sex. No doubt about that, and I won't pretend that no one is. But even when you're into that, you still deserve to be safe and not forced into anything you don't want. Safety should always be there.
For those of us who are not looking for cybersex, things can get a little rough, especially when you encounter someone who is not willing to respect you or your boundaries. Take for example, the website Omegle.com. This allows you to connect with a random stranger for a one-on-one chat without the peskiness of a membership or submitting any personal information to the site. The best part is you can disconnect any time you want. You quite literally do not have to give out any information you don't want to give and you can get away from anyone making you uncomfortable.
But that doesn't mean that there aren't those who won't still try. Omegle is absolutely CHOCK FULL of people looking for nothing but sex. And if that's honestly what you're looking for, then you will find no shortage. (Keep in mind that not everyone is who they say they are...or how old.) Some of them are upfront about it and ask for sex without even knowing your age or gender. Others will try to sneak it into the conversation without your permission. In my experience trying to find someone to have a regular conversation with, I was told by many an angry, horny person, that "Everyone is here for sex" and that it was MY problem if I didn't submit. (Needless to say, I disconnect a lot more than I actually chat. The sad part is I really don't think it should be that way. I shouldn't have to either disconnect or not get to use chat rooms at all because of horny people who can't take NO for an answer.) There are many types of these people too. I've put them into categories:
1) The 5/10-Minute Switcher. This is the kind of person who will feign interest in a regular conversation for between five or 10 minutes (some really dedicated ones will stretch for 15) before suddenly deciding "Well, that's enough for them to owe me" and drop the "I'm horny" bomb on you, thinking that 5 minutes of conversation is long enough to demand sex. If you happen to not be looking for that yourself, any kind of rejection to them can result in them either disconnecting, insulting you, or pretending to be sorry and then trying again 5 minutes later.
2) The Rager. This one is nasty. They will say anything and everything that comes to their minds that they think will make you feel bad. And I mean ANYTHING. One minute it's "Hey babe, I bet you're hot" the next it's every insult in the book against your body (whether or not they've actually seen a pic), your family, or your boyfriend or girlfriend (if you've said you're taken). Nothing is sacred to these people. I've been told by 16-year-olds that I have dust in my vagina and I will die alone. I've been told by jocks that my husband is going to cheat on me with all my friends because I'm so frigid (in this case, "frigid" meaning anyone who rejects them). Etc. Etc. Etc. Don't argue with them. Just disconnect.
3) The Sneaker, or the person who thinks you're stupid. This is the kind of person who will try to sneak it into conversation by asking questions that will lead to sexual answers. The problem is they aren't as "sneaky" as they think. If you say you're married, they will ask how your wedding night was after the ceremony. They will ask you what your spouse likes to do in the bedroom. They will ask about the size/detail of your spouse's body or genitals. All questions they think you won't notice are designed to get sex into the conversation. If you're not married or in a relationship, they will ask the age old "what are you wearing?" or ask what your body looks like, then drop in pervy comments about how hot you must be. They think you won't figure it out, and when you call them out on it, they will feign ignorance or innocence. These people are even worse than the ragers in that they do not ask your permission of if you're interested, and they try to use dishonest means and extremely personal questions to get what they want out of you.
4) The Shameless Cheater. This is the kind of person who is cheating, looking to cheat, and thinks that everyone else is just like them. They are kind of like 5-minute-switchers in that they pretend to be interested, and then drop the horny bomb. They don't care if you're in a relationship, hell, they like it even better that way! They see absolutely NO reason why you shouldn't cheat, they think that the internet doesn't count and in all honesty, they think that nothing really counts. They don't care about your boundaries, they don't care that you're not interested, and they think that what your partner doesn't know isn't a problem. They have such an inflated ego that they think they'd be better than whoever you're with anyway, you could be in a relationship with Hercules and these people will still think they are better. They think that they deserve sex with whoever, whenever, and find it hard to believe that anyone could possibly not be that way.
How to Deal
As I said before, everyone should be able to enjoy the internet's many wonders and advantages, such as chatting, without worry. Even those who actually do want to have some fun cybering. No one should have to be made uncomfortable. No one should have to feel bad about not submitting to someone else's force. People who are looking for sex online should be able to feel and be safe with their online partners, and people who are looking for regular conversation should be able to find it without harassment. No one should have to avoid the internet or certain sites they like because of harassment from others.
Unfortunately, that's not the way things are. And until things change, there are ways to protect yourself.
Like I said about my experiences on Omegle, I do end up disconnecting from a lot of people. There's really no way around it. The best thing to do in a situation on this site when someone is making you uncomfortable is to disconnect from them. You don't have to put up with them harassing or insulting you. Never let it get to you.
The other obvious tip is to never ever give out personal information. You never know who you're talking to and you never know what they will do with that information. It could be as innocent as sending a normal photo. You never, ever know.
Giving your phone number/kik account to someone you just met is not a good idea. You may actually want to wait a few years before giving out your phone number to someone from a chat room. I made the mistake of giving someone I knew on a forum my number, and he stalked me. I wished I hadn’t given him my number, but I thought that he was my friend. I had known him for a few months. Was it fair of him to take advantage of my trust like that? Absolutely NOT, but since then I have not given out my number to anyone I haven't met in person.
Know that it isn't your fault. If someone tries to harass you online, or make you feel like a bad person for not giving in, never let them guilt you into thinking that it's your fault. Don't internalize THEIR issues. Even if you ARE looking for online sex, you don't deserve harassment and guilt from people who can't respect your boundaries.
These things may seem like no-brainers, and they should be. But you would be surprised how many people willingly give information or ask for it without a second thought. I think it has a lot to do with the "it won't happen to me, it only happens to other people" mentality that advanced technology has helped facilitate. It can happen to you. You are "other people" to someone else. It can happen whether you are old or young.
Sometimes, no matter what you do to try to protect yourself, predators and stalkers can still get to you. In which case, documenting everything they do and going to the police can be necessary.
The internet can be a dangerous place. But it can also be a great place. We should all be able to enjoy it and keep safe.