I’m still fascinated by the psychological, social and emotional implications of internet use. With the recent introduction of Y! Live, deaf people are now spending an extraordinary amount of time in the online chatroom at Y! Live/Deafread. I know. I’m one of them. For the last 2 days, I’ve been a relational chatter — building friendships, nurturing old ones, and laughing until my cheeks ache with spasms! This place is like a potent drug. Definitely mood altering!

Last night, deafies swarmed Y! Live, making their way into Tayler Meyer’s channel (room). Many said they stayed until they were kicked off when the system stopped. What is it about this online phenomenon that has caused this sudden surge of visual chat among deaf people? Are deafies, in particular, suddenly more vulnerable to potential online addiction?

The psychoactive nature of this particular visual chat room draws us visual deaf people in swarms. Here we find immediate, accelerated intimacy and decreased inhibition. For some, there is even a loss of boundaries. One deaf chatter said she went to the home page of Y! Live and saw a guy walking around nude! Trolls abound.

Yet, throughout history, when deaf people gather together in one place, the quick exchange of cultural information, (i.e.: Where are you from? Where did you go to school? Family Deaf? When did you learn ASL?) provides us with an understanding of what we have in common, and we immediately bond. This is our culture. This is our way. Now that we know there is a place and space of our own, a place to gather and meet new people, share common interests and stories, and still remain open to the plethora of differences that make us each interesting and unique, we are heading there in droves!

This afternoon, as deafies gathered in the Y! Live DeafRead channel room, we laughed, teased, questioned, cried, welcomed cuers, exchanged signs, shared culture, discussed Deafhood, sweat over trying to bring those chatters whom we couldn’t see, into the live feed, and some even experimented with using microphones. It was a place of welcome and inclusion. A place of experiment. Deaf-initely, a place to belong.

However, this place has potentially dangerous downsides. It is truly, totally addicting! Hanging around in chat rooms has the potential to interfere with important aspects of our lives. Our frequent or lengthy participation can potentially lead to the neglect of spouses, partners, children, pets, homes and work. Time flies when you’re having fun, and before you know it, you forgot to fix dinner, feed the dog, get the mail, do your chores, quench your thirst or even use the bathroom! Hanging out in deaf chat rooms has the potential to cause muscle tension, headaches from rapid eye movement, stiff joints, and possible eventual weight gain! Eeek!

Thankfully, to combat these negative aspects of Y!-chatting, deaf chatters are already thinking ahead. Today, we encouraged each other to take stretch breaks, dance around the room to move our aching bodies, or position our web cams so we could sprawl out, kick back and lay down. We ate and shared virtual popcorn together, drank our waters and coffees, took lunch breaks, and some even got out into the great outdoors for a while before returning to pick up where they left off. Deaf chatters brought their families into view, stole kisses and hugs from their children, spouses and pets, and showed each other fun nic nacs and pictures from their desks. In essence, we worked at integrating our online and off line lives — A pretty healthy thing to do.

Regardless of the downsides, there is clearly something unique and powerful going on here in the deaf Y! chat community! As Charles Katz said at the Deafread Conference in February, “We’re living our history!” For me, the Y! Live/DeafRead Chat room experience has been entirely relational. Fun, Farout and Flippin! Still, I will continue to acknowledge the potential for addiction, and make sure I give myself healthy breaks, time for my family and attending to my own personal care needs. I hope we all encourage each other to do the same.

Now, my break is over and I’m feeling the tug. My body is stretched, my family has been attended to and fed, and we’re all relaxed and happy. So, I’m heading back on over there. Care to chat?

For people who fear themselves or someone they love may have an Internet Addiction, here’s a helpful site to visit: Center for Internet Addiction.

22 Responses to “Is Chat Room Addiction Real? You’d Better Believe It!”


    It was REAL FUN! Even though I couldn’t get in the room, with the GREATEST help from you, Amy, Deafreckles, Galaxy, etc…It was FUN Chatting. Poor you, had to watch people talking to you, plus people *Screaming* for your attention on the text! LOL! It was REAL FUN! “Hours of it” :-) Its a good addiction……never heard of “good addiction” but heck, this one IS!! :-)

    PS: I can’t believe YOU….YOU actually did a blog? KIK!!

    BAD – KIK!

    ~ L

    LaRonda, it was nice getting to know you. Yes, it is quite addictive but I think I will get over it quickly and pop up from time to time.

    Boy, I just got out of there.

    Time for bed. ZZzzzZzzz

    Ah, you guys got together again this afternoon? Hmm, I missed it. :-p Yeah, I thought about the addictiveness last night. I got off suddenly because of the troll thingy, and got back on and chatted with Seek Geo around the time it was going to go into maintenance. I felt the “belonging” that you were talking about. How nice it was to connect with you all, it was awesome. I really hope we do this again! Maybe we can do a soapbox discussion. Ha

    Oh yes.. it’s very addicting! Gotta learn to control myself and balance my life with important priorities! At least the deaf peoeple found a place where they can get together and chat that they were being deprived of having deaf companions to be with.

    Seems the lessons of efnet deaf chatroom 10 years ago has either been forgotten or hasnt been learned yet.

    hi LaRonda, I got onto the Deafroom chat, but for some reason, the members names and the chat space are all black (empty) though it said there are 35 people in there. I tried typing something, but it didn’t appear in the chat room. I can see the bottom four videos though. Is it possible that the chat owner blocked me?

    thanks :)

    Good to see you chat room, Hope to see you again anytime! GOodnight!

    Yes, I have to agree with you.. We need to learn how to do time management. We are allow to have fun but we need to learn balance with our daily life in the real world along with the online socializing. I felt like I went to deaf club or deaf event. Enjoy meeting new people especially you are one of them.. I had enjoy meeting with you and others. Getting to know each other while being online.

    Hello LaRonda… Yeah i agree deaf chat live can be addicting to people… we just have to be careful and try balance out internet world and real world… being on internet too much can lead to missing out things, leaving out ur family or friends, i agree…. good blog there…

    I m glad to know that I won’t go there because I do not want hook to that chat room and pull my time over there. Prefer private chat room with limit time. Thanks for Amy and your warning.

    “One deaf chatter said she went to the home page of Y! Live and saw a guy walking around nude!”

    Are you serious? Oh, I missed it! *giggles* I saw one guy making a bed. I can’t
    say who, but I know him through vlogging. By the way, I’ve been so careful when I breastfeed
    while I was in Y! Live Chat room and one lady told me to not showing it to everyone, but
    I hid my breasts not showing it. They could see my toddler’s head.
    Well, I’m not embarrassed. I often nurse my kids in a restaurant (with a
    thin blanket covered).

    I enjoyed talking with you! It’s been so real!

    I stumbled upon the chatroom last Friday night; I immediately knew it would be a hit. Signing to each other is a natural way of communicating, instead of chatting away in text… Sooooo 20th century! :)

    I hope the chatroom (or something like it) will become a regular fixture; i.e., every Wednesday night from 8 p.m. onwards or something. Already I think the novelty is wearing off…

    LaRonda, it was really great meeting you, though very briefly, yesterday in Y-chat. Yeah, go and talk about that nude guy!!! It was such a shocking view. Ha! Looking forward to more chats with you and every one else. BTW: wonderful piece of writing you did this time. Very expository-like. :-)

    Right on LaRonda! I am already addicted to the chat room in the first night :)

    Was nice meeting/talking with you and I have to say thank you for the introducing of other new friends to me and I quite made few new friends immediately.

    Looking forward to every night?? lol


    good to know where to gather into that chat room as nice to meet you yesturday by the way i joined in wordpress… i try find your email in your blog which would not–so,if you don’t mind to help me out on feature/setting? thanks (signhand)

    Hey, I am their primary target now! No need to explain why. :(

    Hey I m one of the guest not put my user on. LOL.. Maybe I am spying to you. Just kidding.. How can I put my user name and broadcasting?? I just look around and I m shy. Smile.. I am breaking ice right now. I know it is an addiction. I keep it open all night.

    Rick M.

    Hi Rick.

    You will need to sign up for a Yahoo account. That will let you create a user name. Then you can sign in on Y! Live chat. If you have a web cam, then you can go live and we can see you and chat in ASL. If no web cam, you can still chat with us by typing text. But first you need an account with Yahoo. Go to Yahoo.com to sign up. Jay Krieger made a good vlog about how to use Y! Live chat. Go to: http://seesay-jay.blogspot.com/2008/02/y-live-explained.html

    ~ LaRonda

    hello, im hannah…
    i am hearing but i want to learn sign language… i know a little bit..
    but i need some help learning some more :)

    I agree with LaRonda … “this place has potentially dangerous downsides. It is truly, totally addicting! Hanging around in chat rooms has the potential to interfere with … can potentially lead to the neglect of spouses, partners, children, pets, homes and work.”

    However, I also believe that it is equally important to realize the origins, the roots for love addicitons. After having realized her or his issues with love addiction, working with a counselor is often the best way to discover early childhood sexual traumata or a failed relationship.
    My web-page is meant to give some summarized info on that topic. http://www.facingloveaddiction.com
    love and addiction – facing love addiction

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