Chatroulette Take Two


Chatroulette’s in the spotlight this week. While the social-networking site has been around since November 2009, and its creator was revealed in February as 18-year-old Russian high-school drop-out Andrey Ternofskiy, both The New Yorker and The Daily Beast have features on the relatively young site and its founder.

While Ternofsky is the new toast of Palo Alto who’s been skirting the courtship of Russian investors in favor of hobnobbing with Fred Wilson, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, his site has garnered a large following by a less-than-savory demographic–that of men who flash.

Julia Ioffe’s piece in The New Yorker is a great profile on its creator, Ternofskiy, who, while being the son of a mathematician and a math professor, did astoundingly poorly in math class. And while he’s created one of the hottest new sites for online socializing, Ioffe notes wryly: “The best way to talk to Ternovskiy is through some kind of digital intermediary. Shy and evasive in person, he fills with a wry swagger when he is just a stream of text.”

While Chatroulette’s founder might be prone to introversion, his site has strong appeal for those who are a little more, shall we say, outgoing. At The Daily Beast, in her essay “The Naked Men of Chatroulette,” Shannon Donnelly explores the site’s large following of men who expose themselves onscreen. And while she interviews some men–“Joe from Oregon was willing to stop what he was doing long enough to tap out his one-handed answer to a reporter’s questions”–Donnelly goes beyond the merely unclothed to explore the larger social aspect of exhibitionism that’s taking our culture by the cojones.

Rozalia Jovanovic is a founding editor of Gigantic, a magazine of short prose and art. She is the Deputy Editor of Flavorpill and has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Columbia University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming from Unsaid, The Believer, Everyday Genius, Guernica, elimae, and She blogs at The Astonishing Egg and is The Rumpus New York Editor. More from this author →