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The Melancholy of SMU Chatbot

9th June, 2021, 8.00pm

I flip my laptop open.

> Telegram > My Editor-In-Chief

Me: Hey, I’ve got mad feels to write something, care to edit? It’s gonna be about the @SMUchatbot.

Editor: What is that?

Sooo... what’s a Chatbot?

If you haven’t heard of the @SMUchatbot, you either live under a rock, or you're just not an active user of TikTok (which has in fact recently been discovered by researchers to be an abomination of social media, a product of the psychological warfare institute Tencent, and the root cause of COVID-19).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to bash TikTok. But if you have been frequenting the platform, you would have noticed that university Chatbots have been trending for quite some time. The chatbot pairs you up with another stranger, allowing you to have a conversation with each other on Telegram anonymously. Basically, they’re the equivalent of Omegle for uni students - minus the d*cks.

Having been put on unpaid leave from my internship since the start of start of Phase 2: HA, I've simply had too much time on my hands, and as a result… delved into the depths of SMU Chatbot to discover what it was all about - and make some friends while I was at it.


It’s only my third day on the bot, and I’m starting to get real tired of trolls and people from Pulau NTU crashing the bot that is appropriately named SMU Chatbot. I mean geez, go to your own bot, and learn how to read.

I hesitate for a moment, and eventually decide to take the leap of faith to start a new chat - with hopes that this time, there wouldn’t be any trolls in my way.

X, Year 2, SOSS

9th June, 2021, 1.15pm

The start of every conversation

> /start

> Looking for another student to match you with... Hold on! (This may take a while! Keep your notifications on!)

> You have been matched, have fun!

Me: Hi!

X: Hello! Are you a current student?

Me: Yeah I am, SOA Y2, what about you?


I came to learn that it was X's first time on the bot, and that she was currently in a dance and CSP CCA. Although when I probed further, I was faced with a cold-hearted, “NAH, NOT TELLING YOU!”.

I understood - after all, anonymity was one of the key perks of this service. People weren't obligated to reveal themselves, and having a good conversation was at the centre of its purpose.

The conversation soon devolved into playful banter, which eventually became endemic in our conversation (as our Prime Minister eloquently puts it).

X shared that she was on leave from internship in order to hang out with her friend, that she was around school and having lunch at a random staircase.

Me: I usually drop my handle at the end of the convo if I find that it’s going well.

X: That’s good, then there’s no pressure on the other party to drop her handle as well! So is this convo going well?

Me: You will know at the end of the convo HAHA.

Indeed it was. But as with all things good in life, an end had to arrive.

X: I feel bad for my friend, she’s waiting for me now!

Me: Go for it! But before you go, here’s my IG handle! @ [redacted]

Me: No pressures to follow back okay! Thank you soo much for the great conversation.

X: Thank you so much, it was a nice first chat!

> Your conversation partner has left the chat

> Your conversation is over, I hope you enjoyed it :)

My heart lingers for a second, overwhelmed with feelings of sonder.


Y, Recent Graduate from MI

9th June, 2021, 6.08pm

> /start

> Looking for another student to match you with... Hold on! (This may take a while! Keep your notifications on!)

> You have been matched, have fun!

Me: Hello!

Y: Hi! Are you from SMU!

Me: Yea I am, Y2 SOA, what about you?

Y: HAHA. I’m not! I’m hoping to be though! Applied for SMU Biz

Y: And just appealed :(

Y had an interview with NTU the day before, and was hoping that she would be able to secure a place in either university. I’m the first stranger that Y spoke to, and in her own words, she guessed that I was “a girl” because I was “easy to talk to”.

There you go: cold hard proof. I’m not lying!

I eventually found out that Y is turning 20 this year, knows friends in SMU, and has been to Bricklane. Her friend from SOE was part of pageant in 2019, and apparently, they study at Bricklane together.

Not to judge, but…who does that...? How do you study with all that noise, surrounded by drunk people around you anyway?

Y: Man, now I hope I get into SMU, and somehow find you.

Y: I’ll search the whole acc department to find a new bestie… Watch out!

Pulling on the heartstrings you bet.

And as usual, in my considerable attempts to make new friends, I left her my IG handle before we parted virtual ways.

Y: It was very nice to talk to you, byebye!

Me: I hope you get into SMU!


Y: :(

Me: Don't be sad! You have a way of contacting me, but I don’t.

Y: YES I DO! HEHEHE! We’ll see!

Me: I've really got to go now. Bye!

Y: Byeee!

> /end

> We're ending the conversation...

> Your conversation is over, I hope you enjoyed it :)

And there it goes, the end of another chat.

Did I enjoy speaking to her? I certainly did. Will I get to speak with her ever again? Only time will tell.


Having given out my Instagram handle twice in the same day, I log in with anticipation at 11.07pm. No new followers. I felt a tinge of sadness in my chest.

Carmen, Incoming Y1, SOA

9th June, 2021, 11.07pm

Me: Hey Carmen! Y’know - I went on the bot twice today and had such interesting conversations, but it's just so sad knowing that I will probably never speak to them again.

Carmen: Hmm. Aiya! At least you've got one friend right here.

Carmen was my very first chat on my very first day of being on the Chatbot three days prior. There’s nothing like your first time, as they say. We had an amazing conversation and subsequently exchanged Telegram handles. There marks the spot where a year 2 student and an incoming freshie forged a friendship, amidst the enigma of anonymity.

And she was right - I did make a friend, and I was grateful for that. Nonetheless, there’s a sense of loss that transpires as you come to realise that you might not have another conversation with the human that you spoke to for an hour. You will never know their name, never know more about them, and will probably never cross paths with them ever again.

In case I'm being accused of being infatuated with anonymous people on a chatbot, I'd like to make clear that it takes a lot more for me to fall in love with the people online. I’ll shout it out again for the people at the back - "I’M NOT IN LOVE!"

In times like these, where university students like us are stripped away of the opportunity to build relationships in person, I’m just in love with the idea of making a new friend.

Of course, forging an actual genuine friendship on the SMU Chatbot would be more of an anomaly than the norm. But hey, if you have a bit of too much time on your hands, why not give it a try? You might make a new friend like me. It might even be magical.

Call me sentimental, but I think I’ll miss these almost friends.

Article dedicated to the two that got away.


Disclaimer: The Blue and Gold or SMUSA is not affiliated with SMU Chatbot in anyway. This article was written independently based on our writer's personal experiences. The Blue and Gold shall not be responsible for any creeps or traumatising experiences which may arise as a result of the use of SMU Chatbot.


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