Confessions of a Cam Girl in an Age of Loneliness

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Joined: Mon Aug 19, 2019 8:44 am

Confessions of a Cam Girl in an Age of Loneliness

Post by hojoos » Fri Dec 25, 2020 1:40 pm

At 7 o’clock in the evening, seven days a week, I can be found sitting on one end of my bed in Manhattan, posed in front of my phone as I address hundreds of strangers. “Hi, you guys,” I say — because the majority of my viewers are men — followed by my usual nightly greeting: “It’s been such a long day.” I pout slightly, my eyes trained on the camera to give the illusion I’m speaking directly to each individual viewer.

I watch as more sign in and the count rises — 300, 400, 500. Comments start popping up from the bottom left-hand side of my screen: innocent greetings like “good evening” and flirtatious ones like “hello gorgeous” mixing and melding, quickly pushed out of view by those that materialize below them. Soon, they start to appear so rapidly that I can’t keep up with every comment.

They ask me questions: “What did you do today?” “What part of New York do you live in — the city or upstate?” “What do you do for a living?” They ask me more personal ones: “Are you single?” “Dating?” “Where are you from?”

That’s when I start to tell little lies, the kind that give enough information to reassure them that they’re learning more about me, but not enough to let them know who I really am. I tell them which state I live in. That I’m in college, and I have two roommates. I tell them my age, 21, and how I feel like my star signs don’t really align with my personality.

I don’t tell them that I live in New York City, that I’m an NYU senior who has just enough money to afford necessities, but not enough that I don’t need a job like this. I don’t tell them that I secretly hate the two hours a night I sit in front of my camera, pretending to be interested in the stunted conversations they try to start, speaking through what can only be described as one-way glass. That every minute I spend entertaining them, my resentment for the digital world and its various twisted, impersonal methods of communication grows.

I found out about BIGO LIVE, the app where I host my nightly stream, through a friend who introduced me to a company recruiter. The recruiter sits through hours of auditions — men and women coming up to her office in a WeWork building to show off their talents for the chance to make big money for little work. I never went through an interview. Her company had turned down all the men, instructing her to only find attractive, talented women for the site. She messaged me only a few weeks after our initial meeting.

The platform has already gained wild popularity in Asia, but it had recently started looking to garner attention elsewhere. I’ve become an American ambassador for the brand; part of my role is to attract more users here at home. The contract I signed stated that I was not to use profanity — one rule I’d break often. The contract also said that I could not, by any means, do anything that remotely resembles pornography or produce inappropriate content. Most importantly, I must reach a monthly quota of what they call “beans.”

The beans system isn’t complicated, but it is frustrating. It works like this: Viewers enter my live stream, and they have the option to send me gifts, which transfer to my bean count. This count is even more important than my viewership — beans are both my tips and my ratings, and if I don’t receive enough, my account will be terminated by the end of the month.

Ideally, getting more beans would be an easy, stress-free process. One would think I’d even like getting them, as my beans transfer into real money. The catch: Approximately 300 beans amounts to just a single dollar, and very few viewers are generous gifters.

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Re: Confessions of a Cam Girl in an Age of Loneliness

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