How to Talk to Strangers Online

By Tat Ajamyan
December 27, 2022
Technology has made connecting with others easier than ever, yet we still experience a lingering sense of loneliness in this digital age. With the rise of social media and smartphones, we are constantly on our devices scrolling through news feeds which often leads to feeling alone or not as well connected to others as we were before.

Not to mention that these social spaces also brought a whole host of challenges and hazards, like cyberbullying, gender-based discrimination, fear of missing out and more. Such threats caused many people to feel unsafe online and prevented them from taking advantage of social media opportunities.

But what if there is a place that provides a safe, anonymous environment no other online forum can offer? A platform where people can easily set a topic and talk to strangers, express themselves, explore their interests, and find like-minded individuals to connect with?
We wrote this article based on our own experience on Wakie, a voice chatting app where you meet strangers and turn them into friends.
A New Social World
A new form of borderless communities has emerged due to the widespread use of social media and communication platforms. Whenever our smartphones access the internet, we are exposed to people from various cultures, beliefs, ideologies, and assumptions.

Some behavior perceived as normal in the United States could be outcasted in Japan and vice versa, and similar examples exist everywhere on the planet. However, that could be seen as an advantage when we identify how to approach others from different cultures online to learn about their lives, express ourselves, discuss ideas, and have fun at the same time.
Talking to strangers online can be fun and life-changing if you do so with the right intentions and a few considerations
Tat Ajamyan
Wakie founder
We might be more selective about who we add on social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook. Similarly, when it comes to making a call with strangers, precautions must be taken for a safe and mind-broadening experience. We must be more careful about who would be on the other end of the conversation.

We wanted to enrich our article and bring it closer to the workable life-based scenario rather than a bunch of theoretical principles. We'll elaborate on the following guidelines:

  1. Think of a topic you would like to discuss
  2. Keep your personal information offline
  3. Watch for red flags
  4. Be genuine and trust your instincts
  5. Avoid scammers and catfish
Think of a topic you would like to discuss
How do you start a voice chat with a stranger? This is the most difficult part of socializing online, but it does not have to be. It all begins with a simple question you have always wanted to answer but have yet to have the chance to.

The biggest mistake when talking to a stranger is starting a random conversation. That's not going to end up satisfactory for both of you. Instead, pose a question about something currently happening in the world or share an idea you thought of during the day. Think of a specific question you want to ask, a topic you need to discuss, or maybe something you want to learn from someone else. For example:

  • I want to learn English from a native speaker
  • I'm feeling sorry for losing my mom and would like to call a stranger and talk about it
  • My girlfriend is cheating on me, and I don't know what to do about it
  • I'm interested in eastern marriage traditions and would like to find out more
  • I'm a Christian looking to find out more about other religions
  • How can someone marry the same woman for 20 years or more and not feel bored?

And so on and so forth, with unlimited potential topics and questions.
I want to speak, to sing to total strangers. It's my way of talking to the world
Adrian Mitchell
An English poet 1932-2008
Although a random pointless conversation is not advised, you do not need to know anything about the people you're talking to; knowing more about them might complicate things. A starter topic can provide direction, guide the talk, and allow you to set the tone of your conversation from the outset and leave the rest to you and your conversation buddy!

On the other hand, when confronted with a question, take time before answering it and think about the best reply to keep the person on the other end engaged and maintain the conversation for as long as possible.
Personal life experience

We questioned Layla, a Moroccan fitness nutritionist living in Dubai, about her experience talking to strangers online. She said, "When I arrived in Dubai, I was lonely and obsessed with calling strangers online for almost a year. I learned I should always spend time on a specific topic to feel happy when the call or chat ends."

She added, "I cannot tell you how often I have met interesting people from different cultures on Wakie, a voice chatting app. When we couldn't find any common ground from the beginning, we ended up disconnecting shortly. Still, I really wanted to hear from them and get to know their opinion on many issues from a new perspective."
  1. Keep your personal information offline
Strangers are the best people to talk to; they don't judge.
Girl with 'lil notes
Although we can't agree more, strangers might do worse than judging; therefore, you need to protect your personal information to keep yourself safe from cybercrime or potential related risks. Do not share personal information when chatting with strangers online that you typically would not share in person!

This includes your real name, specific location, school, mailing address, and anything else that could be used to trace back to you. Be cautious when getting involved in conversations that seem too deep too soon. If someone asks you something too personal, politely decline their question.
Personal life experience

Alex is a Lebanese web developer, and he recalls a similar situation during a chat where he felt extremely uncomfortable after someone on the other end kept hammering personal questions.

"I first connected with this person because we both liked the same band and music genre, but instead of talking about our favorite album, she kept pushing too hard for my address, saying that she wanted to look up nearby musical events in the area. Even though we had only been talking for ten minutes, I quickly became uncomfortable and decided to discontinue the conversation".

Despite the possibility of a night out or a hookup with that person, Alex wasn't interested, and he soon grew uncomfortable. Therefore, the rule of thumb in talking to strangers is: under no circumstances should you share your private information.
2. Watch for red flags
Some signs indicate an online seemingly friendly conversation might be turning into something sexual or unwanted. When talking or chatting with strangers, watch for red flags such as too many compliments, too much detail, asking for money right away, asking personal questions right away, and asking about your children or family.

Looking out for red flags will also help you discern friendly from outright creepy. Some might ease into such unwanted topics under the guise of playfulness or humor by making sexual jokes or comments to try and put you at ease. Some might pressure you into starting a video call with no clear reason or persistently ask for your personal phone number to call you or contact you on another platform.
Personal life experience

Anastasiya, a Ukrainian DJ who recently moved to the UAE when she got a contract with a local nightclub in Dubai. Her experience in talking to strangers online was something to tell. "After a fairly enjoyable conversation about the latest Avengers movie, this guy started asking me invasive and inappropriate questions about my sex life once he knew I was a DJ."

She continues, "I felt so uncomfortable and asked him to stop, but then he disconnected as if I was the one asking the rude questions! It seemed to me like he was slowly easing his way into turning a normal conversation into a sexual one."
Don't look at the stranger and jump to conclusions. Look at the stranger's world.
Malcolm Gladwell
An English-Canadian journalist
The cultural difference between online strangers is something to consider. While some people would respect it fully, others might not, and their wrongly perceived ideas about other nations, professions, or lifestyles impact their behavior; exactly like what happened to Anastasiya.

So, did she give up online chatting altogether? Anastasiya says, "A friend of mine told me how he met a friend from India who shared his love for botany on an app named Wakie for calling strangers, and decided to give it a shot. I actually really enjoyed the fact that I can select the topics that interest me instead of chatting with random people with nothing to start with."
3. Be genuine and trust your instincts
We'll discuss this specific piece of advice from an online dating angle since it's where you have to trust your instincts the most. Online dating has become a social norm in the last few years as many are using chatrooms to find a match, which is perfectly valid as long as it is done with a few considerations and precautions in mind.

If you want to increase your odds of finding a match, put yourself out there and communicate your romantic intentions from the get-go. Do not pursue an intimate relationship with someone online unless you are certain they are on the same page.

On the other hand, some people make fake accounts or pose as someone else to collect personal information from other people, such as passwords or bank information which can lead to identity theft in which someone steals your identity to use it for crimes such as opening new accounts, obtaining loans, and engaging in criminal behavior on your behalf.

So, be aware of trusting any person online with personal information since there are multiple ways someone could misrepresent themselves online.
Personal life experience

We talked to Arav, an Indian student who recently moved to a European country and struggled to meet new people due to the language barrier. We asked him about online dating and talking to total strangers.

"It is easy for me now since I have taken the plunge and done it myself many times, but for those who haven't done it yet, I am here saying go for it! Use your personality and show them you are a real person. You don't want to come off as robotic or uninterested."
4. Avoid scammers and catfish
In most cases, scammers will be polite and friendly at first to convince you to send them money or personal information. It is just like a fishing hook: once you bite, it is too late to escape.

Fortunately, Wakie boasts an intensive AI-based algorithm that works by the hour to identify suspicious accounts, and human support agents are always available to review block requests. The app's manifesto is clear on Wakie's website.

As for tips and precautions, we turned to Wyatt, a US cybersecurity specialist, for help since he works in the cybercrime field, and he had some interesting tips for those navigating their way through online voice chats with strangers.

"There are many ways to spot potential scammers, if they ignore your questions and just keep asking for personal information or money, or if they are always telling you that they need help for something, but soon enough their situation magically changes when you offer them money."

He added, "Scammers might craft an elaborate story about their lives which is completely made up. They will also often target vulnerable people by pretending to be someone they care about or someone who needs help."

There are certain similarities between a catfish and a scammer online. For instance, catfish will often share fake pictures of themselves or pictures of someone else they have found to lure someone into an online relationship for different reasons.

Wyatt also had something to say about catfish, "Even if you are not actively looking for a partner, you might be lured into being scammed or catfished. Catfish often ask for money or your personal information; they say they are a professional photographer, for example, when there is no evidence suggesting so or that they love you and want to marry you right after meeting them. Always ask yourself, is this person too good to be true?".
Final Thoughts
I'm not afraid of chaos and I'm happy talking to strangers.
I really love not knowing where I'm going.
Fiona Shaw
An Irish theatre actress
Although online interactions do not follow the same rules and norms that offline interactions require, we should not be afraid to talk to strangers online. Despite all the challenges, they can be overcome with the right guidelines. Once something does not seem or feel right, trust your instincts and disconnect the person immediately.
Follow Us
Or not... we still love you :)