Pour One Out For Omegle and What the Internet Could Have Been
I have to be very careful about how I write this column.
Let’s start with the facts.
You know how when an elderly celebrity passes away and you thought they had already passed away years ago? That’s exactly what happened to me when I read last week that Omegle, the 14-year-old video-and-text chat site, was shutting down.
To me, Omegle was nothing more than a cultural meme. I had never used it. I don’t know that I can pronounce it correctly. I thought it had died out in the early 2010s.
So imagine my surprise when I was not only made aware of its recent demise, but in reading the article, also discovered that the machinery behind Omegle was nothing close to what I had assumed was going on back there.
It was started by a kid. Didn’t know that.
It was still being run by that kid, now a fully-formed adult, completely on his own. Wasn’t aware of that.
At the time of its shutdown, Omegle was still pulling in 50 million users per month.
Omegle had become the inception point for some “unspeakably heinous crimes.”
OK, that part I had figured.
And I mean, yeah, good riddance. But as I read the article, it made me nostalgic for what the internet could and should have been, and sad that Omegle’s rise and demise probably signals that the internet will never be anything better than what it has become.
Let’s Mince Words: “Junk”
Back in 2010 or 2011, I wrote a post for Intrepid Media about Chatroulette, the first random video chat platform to invade the public consciousness — a platform surprisingly also started by a kid and still active today, apparently.
See, back in 2010 or whenever, I was fascinated with the possibility of clicking a button and being able to interact with someone from across the world, in their space, from the comfort of your own space, whenever you wanted. It was, dare I say, neat.