It’s not that they’re points of etiquette; they’re just a few basic strategies that will almost certainly improve your random chat experience. Factors like having decent conversational skills or being courteous to your chat partners are always helpful, but you can actually go beyond that. You may have already implemented some of the suggestions below into your random chats; if so, you can feel proud of yourself for catching on without even knowing it!
See if your lighting or background need an upgrade.
When a new chat appears on your screen, you don’t just look at the person in the frame; you’re also processing their lighting and background situation. Few people will admit that they judge others based on looks, but that’s pretty much a fact of life – and of random video chatting.
Even more than putting on clean clothes or brushing your hair, lighting can change the way you appear on-screen in a big way. An extreme angle, a fluorescent bulb, or a beam that’s too strong can totally change the way people see you. This being the case, it might be worth your while to play around with whatever light sources you have to see how you can improve things.
As for the background, just remember that big empty spaces or lots of clutter won’t do you any favors. If you can video chat from a place that looks comfortable and (relatively) clean, you’re going in the right direction.
Keep your eyes peeled for sketchy characters.
Scammers can be found in nearly every part of the internet, so it’s not that surprising that they also hang out on random chat sites. When you hear “scammers”, don’t think of the phone calls in which a man named John tells you that your Windows computer has a virus – it won’t be quite that obvious. In most cases they’re going after your identity, since that’s the easiest thing to obtain on a video chat site. Pretty much every chat site takes steps to protect your anonymity, so that makes you – not your profile – the best source of information.
In order to get this information, most scammers will start out by being really friendly. They’ll make you feel like there’s a bond between you, and maybe even play on your emotions with a sad story. Once they’ve established some sort of connection, that’s when they start attempting to get you to expose your identity. It doesn’t even have to be questions; it could be something like “my full name is such-and-such, so there’s definitely some Polish in there somewhere”. The natural response – which would be safe in a real-world context – is to tell them your full name and maybe some details about your own cultural history. After all, it’s the polite thing to do, right? If you get into this situation, there isn’t a 100% chance that you’re talking with a scammer, but you still shouldn’t answer. If you feel terrible about leaving them hanging, just invent something – it’s still better than risking identity theft.
Don’t let the possibility of scammers distract you from why you’re there in the first place.
If you let the idea of attempted identity theft rain on your parade, you’ll be missing out on all the fun you could have with the vast majority of video chatters. It’s totally safe to assume that any given chat partner is legitimate; just have some sensible personal boundaries in place, and let yourself enjoy interacting with whoever the random chat throws your way.
Step outside your comfort zone every once in a while.
Everyone likes variety until they get something they don’t like, right? There will be some chats that aren’t necessarily fun or entertaining thanks to differences in opinion. You have no obligation to stick with a chat that you don’t like, but sometimes seeing an interaction through to the end could yield unexpected benefits.
Here’s a light-hearted scenario to illustrate: say you’re talking with a German, and they make an off-hand comment about the poor quality of America’s store-bought bread, which you take exception to. Will you end the chat because you don’t see any point in hashing it out, or will you ask them to elaborate on their opinion? If you opt for the second choice, you could get an outsider’s perspective on something that you may not have paid much attention to before.
Have a few conversation topics already prepared in case you ever lack inspiration.
The majority of chats are pretty spontaneous. After all, if two strangers meet up to interact with each other, they’ll have to be willing to improvise. Even so, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan in case neither of you can think of anything. Instead of switching to another chat to see if you can get a better result, just bring up one of the ideas you came up with earlier.
What would work for this scenario? You could discuss whether each of you is a dog or a cat person, and why. Compare the latest projects you completed, or talk about where you’d like to go on vacation. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it just has to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Now you’re familiar with the basics.
You’ll probably figure out some additional strategies as you hone your video chatting skills. You never know what you’ll get when you open up a random chat, but at least you know what to do!