This question is a bit too long for Twitter, and I’m not prepared for the torrent of mockery I’ll receive if I put it on Facebook, so quickie blog post it is:
There used to be (it may still be around; I kinda doubt it) a website where you’d be paired up with some random yahoo on their webcam, and you yourself would be some random yahoo on your webcam, and you could chat with that person or click and be sent on to the next random yahoo. My recollection was that the site was about half thirteen-year-old girls having slumber parties and half masturbating old men who were hoping to con those thirteen-year-olds into taking their shirts off. There was no chatting; only horror.
This predated both Snapchat and Tinder by a good margin– I want to say I lived in Chicago during its heyday, which would put it in the early-mid 2000s– but you can see how it might have informed both of those services. In fact I’m pretty sure it was mostly pre-smartphone, since it relied upon having a webcam.
I cannot construct a Google search that helps me, and I can’t remember the name of the site. Just don’t ask me why I want to know; I just remembered it existed last night and for some reason it still bugs me that I can’t recall the name.