A firsthand unpopular opinion of Clubhouse.
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So today I got a text message. In this day and age, text messages are reserved for bank notifications, one-time PINs, and overdue bills. What it turned out to be, though, was an invitation to Clubhouse. Not that I’m a hipster – but to be absolutely honest, I’ve seen the word come out a few times in my socials, but never paid much attention to it.
In the interest of staying relevant, I dove in, clicked on the link, downloaded the app and promptly registered. I could lie and say that my job needs me to stay up-to-date, but the truth is, I too am a sucker for being in-the-know.
Now, for those of you who have not yet had the good (or bad) fortune of being invited to Clubhouse – let me break it down for you in the simplest of terms. Clubhouse is an invite-only app, that works sort of like a podcast “hosting” platform / forum. Think TedTalks with no moderation and absolutely no quality control. You join up, write yourself a nice LinkedIn-ish bio, and either join a room where there’s a panel running a discussion, or start a room yourself with a few friends and become the panelist/podcast host. Unlike House Party, not everyone in here can talk, only the panelist can and unless you “raise your hand” to ask a question, you’ll likely just be a silent audience member.
Ok, so I’m going to try and ease into this so as to not come off guns-a-blazing (or not).
Getting the app and the way in which it is done is a brilliant marketing strategy. One that has seen much success with luxury brands, country clubs, and Supreme. It’s use of exclusivity basically preys on the insecurities of today’s generation as wanting to always be cool enough to be part of this club or pseudo-cult – I rarely know the difference in today’s world.
You finally download the app and get to the sign-in page, and you realise, the only literal way for you to have an account, is to have an invite that was sent to your phone number. Depending on your level of tenacity, you’ll either find yourself texting friends or hitting peeps up on your socials to see if anyone’s got an invite left to spare (Each person only gets 2 I heard, but for some weird reason I got 1 – might’ve been a bug but meh) or you’re gonna wait it out and see if you have real friends.
Assuming you’ve done it. Success! You’ve got an invite and now you’re in. You go through the usual navigational tutorial (which was rather lacking in my opinion), then you scroll through a bunch of interests you get to highlight, then it takes you to an endless list of people you may or may not know, that fit your relevant interests, and you painstakingly pick whether to follow them or not. Because of my carefully curated street-cred, I’m very cautious to not over-follow on any platform – so you may understand my pain when the page shows me that everyone has been automagically ticked for me to follow. Urgh.
After going through my initiation and follow-page hazing – I’m finally in! Now all I need is a bio to contend with all the “self-made” entrepreneurs. I hurriedly think of something and type in my company bestowed designation. Then I see what other people have done, and I jump right back into my bio and will my brain to come up with a carefully curated LinkedIn bio – but not exactly the same or I’d be a victim of unoriginality.
Now for the main event. I dive into the main feed and scroll through what are basically FB posts denoting the main topic of the room, and who the panelist (or host, at this point I have no clue what to call them) are. It also shows you ONE of your friends that’s currently in the room, in-case you need to impress this person or maybe you actually do have similar interests.
Over the course of the day, I jumped in and out of about 8 different rooms, even noting down times in which topics that I was genuinely interested in were being discussed.
Alright, here’s my conclusion. I personally feel that Clubhouse is a circle-jerk of people that deem themselves good enough to give advice to the masses. Or at the very least, Clubhouse is the enabler that let’s people feel they’re good enough to be dishing out advice. It is self-policing and moderated by the host or panelist of a room within that room. You too can become an online-marketing-guru tomorrow and start your own unsanctioned “podcast” for, sadly, solicited advice.
When the internet gave birth to the freedom of information, it didn’t just become a place to spread knowledge, it also became a place to spread mis-information.
Much like that, Clubhouse takes Ted Talks, and does away with the stringent quality control. There’s a reason people pay to go to Universities and Educational Institutions to learn – because of the repute and research that many generations of scholars have put in to identify that the knowledge they disseminate is accurate and of value to society.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for those of you who are ready to commit to penning down an essay of an entrepreneurial bio for your profile.
I have noticed the likes of Tony Fernandes and Gary Vaynerchuck on the app and a friend has told me that he was in a room hosted by Tony Fernandes the other day. Suffice to say, he had learned something or else he would not have invited me to the app. Hell, I even joined a random room today where random people were literally just playing fun games with each other and that’s something beautiful to see, given the pandemic and all.
As a new medium, Clubhouse is conceptually brilliant. Yes, it does have a multitude of insecure 30-odd-year-olds feeling around for some semblance of recognition for their work – but for the most part, it is an innocent app that may very well level up the podcasting game and take it mainstream.
Do you think we as a society are mature enough to be able to cut out the noise and take every word with a pinch of salt in this overly-information-saturated digital world that we live in?
If yes, then I sure as shit hope you use an iPhone. Cos it’s not currently available on Androids.