Did you know that there are thousands upon thousands of gratis chat channels available on a service called IRC? You can access this via a range of websites, or by downloading free and open source software such as X-Chat or IRSSI, which can be used to connect to one of the many Internet Relay Chat servers still in existance. This free chat service has been around for decades, and it has been used for many purposes, from text-based role playing to sharing files, tech support, and just general conversation.
There are chat channels for a huge range of different subjects, from technical topics to video games, subcultures, medical conditions, TV shows, website user groups, and more. Whatever you want to talk about, you will find people with similar interests on IRC.
One thing you need to note about IRC is that it it text only, and that anyone can claim to be anyone online. You can register your nickname – which will make it harder for people to impersonate you, but you should still think carefully before you reveal any personal information to someone over IRC. It’s great for chatting to people about conversational topics, and some people do go on to meet the people that they chat with in real life. However, the relative anonymity is something that you should always be aware of.
There are some networks on IRC that have channels for personals and dating, and there are some dedicated web chat services which offer the same sort of thing. These are a great way to meet a lot of different people, and you never know who you will hit it off with, and who will become a lifelong friend of yours thanks to the time you spend talking over the computer screen.