How To Chat Online

by Colleen Butler

In what resembles a scene from a sci-fi movie, people are chatting and dating in virtual rooms across the world. Chat rooms are everywhere and offer something for everyone.

Before embarking on your chat adventure, you should familiarize yourself with the concept of chat. Chat is quite different from email: it takes place in real-time. Once you type a message, everyone in the chat session views your words almost instantly. Chatting in real-time enhances the chat experience by creating a conversational atmosphere.

You must have Internet access to chat. Online service providers offer a variety of services such as newsgroups, bulletin boards, and chats. Just click on the chat icon to get started. When choosing your username or anonymous handle, use anonymity to your benefit and select a name that reflects your personality. For safety purposes, never reveal your real name, location, or telephone number.

There are two types of chat: group and private. Group chats are virtual rooms filled with people hosting various discussions at the same time. Private chats are virtual rooms created by users who wish to host their chats in a more intimate setting. Both are public forums.

To create a comfortable environment and enhance your chatting experience, familiarize yourself with chat guidelines, etiquette, or tips.

Before you begin to chat, take a moment to view the conversations and get a feel for the atmosphere in the room. Introduce yourself and greet everyone in the room. A simple "Hello Everyone" is a great way to start.

Improving Chat Skills

Chat environments offer lively and entertaining exchanges for everyone who participates. Like anything else, chatting requires a little time and practice to fully enjoy the experience.

Locate the chat schedule and discover what type of chatting activities are available. Most chat schedules are filled with celebrity hosts and offer a variety of topics.

Moderated chat: Celebrity chats are an exciting way to learn the latest information or hobnob with the stars. Because they tend to draw a crowd, a moderated forum is used. Simply submit your question and a moderator will forward your question to the host. If your question is accepted, the host will reply.

Always keep on topic when attending a celebrity chat. Be aware of the impression you make in a chat room. Sarcasm and well-intentioned criticisms lose their place in the chat environment.

Don't gossip. It seldom casts a flattering light upon you. Use chat rooms and tools to your advantage. "Ignore" anyone who is disruptive.

Expression is an important part of chat. Familiarize yourself with emoticons and other chat expressions to look and feel like a pro.

Chit-chat

Once you become comfortable with chatting, you will encounter new people and create friendships. Together, you will forge a community of individuals based on shared interests and life experience. To enhance your community experience I recommend the following:

  • Select a certain day, time, and chat room to meet your friends each week.
  • Once you establish a group forum, vary the location of your meetings to allow others to participate.
  • Host your own chat events.
  • Create a friendly list serve or newsletter to remind your community members of any new information.

Realize that trust and commitment are key components to any community and that they both take time to develop. Your profile should be a symphony of positive notes and tones; not a list of what you don’t want or of childish demands such as, “he must be financially independent”. And try not to expound lengthy ideas or personal beliefs. Remember your audience will probably have a short attention span.

On the other hand, don’t reduce yourself to a shopping list of adjectives: “I’m tall, cute, temperamental, sassy, intelligent, etc.” Don’t write, “I’m an easy-going guy.” Instead write with an “easy-going” style and you’ll convey the same message with greater credibility. Avoid discussing past relationships and the need to “tell it all”. Finally, don’t forget an appetizer "IS JUST THAT", and leave most of yourself and other goodies for the tantalizing main course and sumptuous dessert.

Once you're ready to start chatting head over to PalTalk, it's one of the largest and most popular chat communities online. PalTalk has a HUGE database of active members, features texting, IM and live video chat, and has thousands of topics specific chat rooms to choose from - something for everyone, no matter what our interest is. A basic membership is free and allows you to text or chat without video - but that can still be a whole lot of fun.

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