To webcam or not?

webcamAre you likely to webcam chat with a man you haven’t met? There can be pros and cons.

I don’t encourage web chats — in fact, I refuse to turn on my webcam even though it’s built into my computer. But potential suitors turn theirs on, so who am I to refuse their invitation?

The video component gives you a much better sense of the man than static photos — some of which are often decades old. You can see his facial expressions, how he laughs, and what part of his home looks like.

And it can create a sense of connectedness — which can be good or not.

Last night I met a man* with whom I’ve been chatting for 6 months via IM, phone and, on his side, webcam. I don’t generally encourage geographically undesirable connections, but he was interesting enough to keep me engaged, although I doubted we’d ever meet. This week he came into my area for a conference so suggested we have dinner.

When we met he looked just like his webcam images. I don’t know how he felt I compared to my photos, but I felt like I was meeting up with an old friend. It was comfortable. Our conversation ebbed and flowed easily. I’ve felt this way with others who’ve communicated only through phone, email and/or IM, so I know it’s possible without the webcam. But I think the real-time images give you a better feel for the person.

Now is this a good thing? If one (or both) of you feel *too* comfortable at the first meeting, privileges can be presumed and behaviors can surface that would normally occur only after going out a number of times.

On the other hand, if he seems unattractive conversing via webcam, you can save yourself from meeting. I didn’t accept invitations to meet two men who webcamed me. A combination of their rooms looking like a tornado had hit, their disheveled appearances, and their on-camera behaviors put the kibosh on my desire to meet.

You may say I’m being unfair since the images are only one way. Perhaps you’d be right. However, having seen enough people on web cam with bad lighting and angles, I’m not drawn to put on make up, do my hair, and determine the best angle and light in order to look good for a man I may not ever meet. If we decide on coffee, yes, I’ll get dated up, but not for a random cam chat. As a marketer, I know to play to my strengths and reduce my liabilities — and webcaming isn’t something that puts me in the best light.

Have you webcam chatted with potential suitors? How has that helped you decide to meet — or not? If you did meet, how did the fact that you’d seen each other (or at least one of you) on screen affect your connection?

(* He is #95 if you’re keeping track.)


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