Imagine going to a party where you don’t know anyone: you casually hop in and out of rooms, and chat with whoever’s around. Or if you’re an introvert and prefer being a silent observer, you lurk in the shadows and just listen to conversations. Once in a while, you might even stumble upon a celebrity and get to interact with them. A breath of fresh air from visual-heavy social media apps such as Instagram and Tiktok, Clubhouse is an exclusive invite-only audio platform which allows people to host or join conversations on anything and everything under the sun. And if you, like us, are seeing more and more people opting for Clubhouse chats over IG Live or IGTV, here’s a low down on who to follow and which rooms to be in.
From music, race, fashion, tech, politics, or movies, there’s a ‘room’ for every conceivable topic. But once the conversation is over, it’s gone forever. This ephemeral nature of the app is perhaps what draws celebrities, experts and insiders to speak freely on it as well. While the app has attracted big names such as Oprah Winfrey and Ashton Kutcher aplenty - navigating the app can be a bit strange and disorienting at first.
With so many rooms you can drop into hosted by people you’ve never even heard of - you can spend hours and hours of your day learning nothing about everything. There are rooms with motivational speakers with thousands of guests, meditation rooms where all you hear is white noise, hosts with ‘trader, entrepreneur, angel investor’ who give people free knowledge on Bitcoin and freezing cold ice-baths, and even happy hour rooms where you sip on cocktails
And there are ‘clubs’ of course - ‘The Good Time Show’ is a popular one hosted by husband-wife duo Sriram Krishnan and Aarthi Ramamurthy, which has hosted speakers such as Diane von Furstenberg, Elon Musk and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja for organic chats. ‘The Dark Room’ is a club that hosts conversations on real topics ranging from fat-phobia to caste-based discrimination. Apart from being a platform for entertaining and eye-opening conversations, Clubhouse has also become a strong forum for the Indian LGBTQIA+ community, where people share their personal experiences and inspiring stories. Sessions do get emotional from time to time.
Another trend taking hold is the Indian cities finding a spotlight on the app. Hotspots such as Delhi, Goa and Kerala seem to love being on Clubhouse, with discussions on local food, literature, movies and political debates taking place on the regular.
Perhaps the appeal of Clubhouse lies in the fact that we get to listen to, speak with, and connect with so many people who we don’t have daily run-ins with, especially given that our social lives have been put on hold. The live aspect of the app gives it intimacy. It would be interesting to see if the platform still holds much stock once we re-emerge into the real world and actually start socialising in person.
With so many conversations ranging from fun, to informative and educational, it's hard not to feel FOMO. However, could Clubhouse fatigue be kicking in? Recent conversations have also sparked speculation over the app’s privacy settings. Reports say that when it’s 2.6 million users in India tune in, they are giving up excessive information to the app that has access to personal information of course, but also contact lists and their phone numbers, if approved.
Part of the platform’s charm is its incognito characteristics that are emboldening people to speak their mind and then disappear into the ether. So much so, that some Clubhouse rooms are just lacking agenda and flow with anyone and everyone becoming moderators for rooms. From its birth earlier this year, today our Instagram stories are awash with people claiming the end of Clubhouse even before it all started. And with that, it’s a return to familiar platforms that
everyone loves… Until there is another Clubhouse, in a new form and disguise, and we all move to that for respite from a stranger-than-fiction world.