So, this is what happened. I'm jet-lagged. The seventeen-hour two-flight combo I took yesterday has me wiped out. Thankfully, I'd already written today's scheduled article about Spiderman, storytelling, and magic.
But then – just as I went to schedule today's email – I saw the news.
Omegle is no more.
That's right, Omegle, the site that lets you talk to strangers, shut down today as the founder told the world he doesn't want to die of a heart attack in his 30s.
The site has long been riddled with controversy, flooded with underage participants and countless people exposing themselves to strangers.
It's also served as an endless content factory for streamers, internet pranksters, musicians who take requests, and TikTok magicians.
I've wanted to write about Omegle and magicians for over a year.
I first typed the topic idea into my notes in March 2022. It's served as a training ground for magicians who get to perform for an endless stream of bored but often interested participants – and it's easy to stand out amongst all the bored strangers with a deck of cards, a condom trick, or a simple snap change.
And so, I decided to write an entirely new post for today.
We're doing it live, folks!
This is a deep dive into Omegle, how and why TikTok magicians flocked to it, and why their content went so viral. But, we're going to go back to the beginning – 13 years ago, when a very young-looking magic duo, Barry & Stuart, fooled me with a card trick they performed on a similar video chat site.