The night before New Years Eve of 2013, I was home alone. My mom and grandparents went of somewhere to drop off some relatives at some place and my brother was outside with friends playing with firecrackers and what not. I was alone. In the Philippines, New Years Eve is a wondrous thing that one must celebrate and rejoice. How? Popping firecrackers and showing off fireworks displays of course! Well, that fun hasn’t started yet. It wasn’t completely quiet outside but the fun hasn’t started yet.
As I was saying, I was home alone and I had a laptop in front of me. I was bored too. So, what I did is Google “teen chat rooms”. And that’s where it started…
I found this website called Teen Chat Avenue. I logged on using some username and started chatting. Did I have fun? Yes. Did I meet new people? Not exactly. Did it kill time till it was time to go outside and stop my on purpose isolation? Yes.
A few days later, boredom struck me again. I went on the chat site. I chatted with strangers until my mother told me to stop. I was only private messaging but I saw that the people who were chatting on the main chat box looked so fun and happy. They knew each other and they were literally engaging in a random and outgoing conversation. About what? Nothing. So I decided to join in.
The next day/week/or so, I decided to go public. It wasn’t easy at first but sooner or later, I became one of the “chat regulars”.
Chat regulars are the ones who are friends with the other regulars who mostly converse on main. These regulars are so close to one another, they have each other on Skype, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc etc. They even have each other’s phone numbers! And you know what? Knowing these chat regulars and being one of them was so. much. fun.
When they asked me where I was from, I would say I was from the United States. Which is a complete lie. I told them I was from the U.S. because I was migrating to the country soon. Anyways, I pulled it off. Luckily.
Teen Chat was an amazing thing for me. I would log in everyday and every night. Before I go to school, I would log in after showering. When I got home from school/soccer practice, I would log in and spend 2 hours online and set my homework and other duties aside. I was addicted. I was hooked.
The website had it’s dose of pros and cons. The drama. The bullshit. The perverts and old men. But that didn’t stop the regulars and I. We looked forward to logging in everyday and sometimes, turn on our webcams to stare at each other. One of them asked me if I had Skype. I didn’t. I thought to myself that it was official. I liked them and they liked me. So I made a Skype and gave the I.D. to them. That’s where the group chats and group calls started. I would be on Skype and the chat both at the same time.
The chat was like school. It had its circle of friends and couples. It had drama. It had secrets. It had crushes. We were a bunch of teenagers who wanted an escape from life and it’s realities. Chat was our escape. Skype was our escape. Chatting/Webcamming/Mic chatting each other was our escape.
Summer where I was started in March. I had all the free time in the world. Unfortunately, the regulars still had school/college in their hands. But the time zones did not stop me. I would pull an all nighter every night. I was unstoppable. During this time, I was going through troubles and trials in my life. The regulars were my distraction. Whenever I chatted with them on Skype or online, I felt happy. They were my getaway from the horrors of life.
Then around June, people were leaving. The regulars started going one by one. They were having social lives. They were abandoning there online egos. Some of them even deleted me off Skype! I was sad. I was heartbroken. I considered these online figures my friends. But they didn’t all leave in one go. The regulars left slowly but surely, till I was the only one left.
I left chat. Well, not really. I still go on but as a guest, every day and night, to see if a regular was on. I mainly focused on Skype. I still had some of them on there. I was happy. I would go on Skype everyday. And every time I saw that orange message notification for me or any other notification from them, inviting me to this group chat to this group call, I got excited and ecstatic.
Around September, I was starting to get realizations.
“Why are you still talking to them?!”
“They don’t give a damn about you!”
“You care about them but they don’t care about you!”
“Stop this! They are just online people!”
“You will never meet them!”
“Sooner or later, all of this would end and you’ll be the only one left!”
“You are a sad lifeless person.”
These thoughts haunted me all day long. 24/7. I decided to take action.
I started removing people on Skype. I tried so hard not going on the chat site and Skype. I tried to shoo them from my thoughts. I tried my best not to retreat back to the instant messenger or website when I was bored.
IT. WAS. HARD. For 10 months of daily dosage of the message pings and LOL’s, this self rehab I was giving myself was agonizing. But I knew very well I needed it. Even though I was still going through issues and hardships, I knew that I must control myself and withdraw from the online world I once considered as home and paradise.
After a few weeks, when I got my senses under control and my emotions in a box, guess what? I was bored. And I wasn’t jittery about going online again. I just felt like it. But not in an excited “omg” way. I was bored and wanted to kill time. Nothing else. I went to the website and typed out my username. I went on Skype and logged in. The messages I got were overwhelming.
“OMG! Where have you been!?!??!?!”
“I missed you so much!!!”
“Aaaah! You got a social life! :o”
“Don’t leave ever again!”
“How have you been?!”
“Go on cam! I miss your face!”
“OMG. Is that you?!”
“Are you really online??? Like forreal???”
I was shocked. The amount of exclamation points, questions marks, capital letters, and smileys surprised me. I didn’t realize that the regulars missed me. I didn’t even think that they thought about me or even remembered me. I was so glad. Even most of the regulars who left came back! I was overjoyed. Then the addiction started again. And the resentment and self rehabilitation came right after.
Around November, my migration to the United States has arrived! My flight to the land of awesome has arrived! I cannot wait to hop on the airplane!
Upon arrival to the US, chat and the regulars did not cross my mind. For 3 months, I had no time to go online and I did not want to. But when culture shock and homesickness came, I need a distraction. I needed my “escape”. So I went on Teen Chat and Skype. Again, the swarm of sweet and shocked cyber messages came flooding in. I was at bliss.
Now, it is April 26th 2014. It’s already been more then a year since I’ve discovered Teen Chat and met the regulars. Most of them have left and have forgotten the place and me. They have outgrown the website and some have finished there teenaged years. They are now focusing on their own lives. I have deleted all the regulars on my Skype except one. I still go online frequently. And I am currently on the stage of resentment. Self rehabilitation is coming soon. Very soon. It starts tonight or tomorrow.
This one guy I used to have a fling with and would always hit on me is now 20 and he is, I’m assuming, in prison. He told me his full name and I have decided to look him up on Google. What I saw shocked me. He is indicted on child pornography and is going through trial and such. I am speechless.
Oh, I was so interested with the regulars that I looked them up on social media and stalked them. I really was obsessed. Creepy, I know.
Now, I am starting to help myself again and focus on reality. Life is filled problems and hardships and avoiding them is not going to help you overcome them. All you can do is face them and deal them with a proper and mature manner.