Chatlines, Partylines, and Hotlines: Whats The Difference

Chatlines vs Hotlines vs Party Lines

People often confuse the three different types of “lines”; chatlines, partylines, and hotlines. Each of these different forms of communication serve the similar function; to get people in contact with someone they haven’t exactly been in contact with in the past. Even though they all serve a similar function they do, also, have their differences.


Chatlines have a self-explanatory purpose. The purpose of a chatline is, simply, to meet and chat with new friends or even finding a potential lover. Since everyone now-a-days seems to have some type of social anxiety. If they seem to have lost the ability to communicate with another person face to face. They can call a chatline and be randomly connected to another individual who has a similar or common interest.

Many people using chatlines are looking for friendship, dating, or a simple conversation. They do not, usually, serve the purpose of trying to find someone a sexual partner. This from of connection generally has an individual call in and they are asked a series of question’s. Once the questionnaire is finished they move on to trying to match the person with someone who has similar interests or common attributes.

For example, a man calls in looking for a woman who has the same taste in movies or books. The system asks the questions and allows the gentleman to give a brief description of who he is and what he’s looking for. With all the information collected, the systems create a virtual profile that is then broadcasted to a number of different women with commonalities. This is where the “chat” comes in. The two are connected and allowed to chat for a given number of minutes. Once the conversation is ended, they are then given the opportunity to swap personal information or end the connection there. Similar to a crowded bar or dance club, chatlines depend on female callers to attract men to the line. That’s why most chatlines allow women to connect free. Men are offered a free trial after which they are expected to buy talk time. Minutes can be purchased at a discount as part of package or individually.

Party Lines

Since the late 1800s, way before every household in North America had a dedicated phone line, telecom companies would offer a shared phone service known as a party line. An entire building or neighborhood would share a single line. This type of phone service would provide no privacy in communication. Anyone could listen to active conversation by picking up their handset. Similar to a public bathroom, being a party line subscriber meant anyone wishing to make a call had to wait for the single shared phone line to be available in order to use it.

By the 1970s party lines began to be replaced by private lines all across the United States. Until then, sharing a phone line bill among multiple subscribers had allowed many middle-income earning families to afford the convenience of in-home phone service. Due to technological advances and widespread installation of copper phone wires, private phone lines became affordable. Universities also phased out party lines, which were once common in student dormitories. Illinois State University terminated its last party line in 1990.

Today, the term “party line” is more commonly attributed to voice bulletin services such as chatlines and phone sex lines which people can call to “have a party”. These systems are not party lines in the original sense of the term as users call in using multiple, individual lines. Unlike chatlines, modern “party lines” denote a more sexual agenda. People call a chatline to make friends; they call a party line looking for erotic conversation.


The third “line” seems to be one of the most common and semi-important. Hotlines have become a “life-line” to some people. With hotlines like; crime victims, suicide hotlines, emergency hotlines, and even “coming out” hotlines. We have given our society the ability to get any type of help or assistance needed almost in an instant. With suicide hotlines, people who feel they have no will to live can now call and speak to an individual to assist them in getting some sort of treatment or mental help. The suicide line itself has helped save a number of lives by just giving the individual someone to call and speak to about whatever may be bothering them. And with the bullying problem the US has in itself, this hotline gives those who are bullied the confidence they need to walk through the next day one step at a time. Another hotline is the “coming out” hotline. With many people finally starting to understand who they really are. This type of hotlines gives them the ability to, somewhat, explore their thoughts and feelings when it comes to their sexuality. In the past many people weren’t given this option let alone the ability to understand who they really are as a person.

A major form of hotline is the emergency lines. Being able to get in contact with emergency personnel, such as police officers and fire fighters, is very important in the time of crisis any of us have.

Each form of “line” has it purpose and its faults. From the social chatlines to the possibility of getting an infection in the party line. We have connected almost every individual on this planet in one form or another. The beauty is, certain connections can be made to save lives in more ways than one. With the suicide line helping to, somewhat, mentally stabilize a person until they have the ability to seek the medical attention needed. Also the emergencies lines to put someone in touch with the responders who can literally save the lives of you and everyone around you. There is never and will never be shortage of people on this planet that need help. And with those people who are in need will always come someone who is ready and willing to help in one way or another.

Even if the help you need is finding a date for your grandmothers seventh wedding. There will always be some form of open communication to help get whatever you may need and sometimes give you what you want. In conclusion, we should be thanking our fore-fathers for giving us the freedom to speak to and say almost anything we want. Whole giving thanks to Alexander Graham Bell and Anotonio Meucci for starting the process of connecting our individual voices to one another.