I am kicking myself – figuratively – for not signing up to the platform sooner.
The reason I did not sign up sooner is that I use an android mobile device and clubhouse was, initially, only available for iOS devices. I could have used an iOS device to setup an account tough. The account is linked to a unique mobile number and that is device-independent. This delay has cost me my usual @naina handle on the platform. I go by @khaosphilos on ClubHouse now. It isn’t a deal breaker but the online norm of having your handle on most of the leading platforms is something I recommend to all my small business clients as well. And I did not take my own advice here. Probably also speaks to how jaded I feel about online social media platforms.
One thing that I’m happy about on ClubHouse is that a user can only sign up using their mobile phone number. This way, for the most part, they have circumvented the Bot problem that both Instagram and Twitter suffer from. ( But I have also heard that it is possible to have bots on ClubHouse – only not in the same volume as Twitter & Instagram. I’m still learning more about the platform, and will request you to keep that in mind as you read this post. )
The second safeguard from Bots and trouble-making humans is that if an individual decides to create a Club or a Room to speak about a subject, not everyone that joins that room is automatically allowed to speak. The Moderator has to individually allow each attendee to come to the “stage” to speak.
An individual can, hypothetically, sign up to the platform again and again but it is not an entirely painless process. For now at least, one can only sign up to the platform if one has an invitation from an existing user. If an individual was to be kicked off from the platform based on other users reporting their account, signing up again will first mean securing an invitation. Apart from this, if one hopes to create a solid profile on the platform, one will have to start from scratch and probably not be able to secure their own original username as well.
I’m happy with the safeguards so far. The worst that I’ve experienced is a ClubHouse newbie who started a room without giving it a subject / title. Someone credible I know from my professional life, was also speaking in this room. I joined the room and realized that not only did the Moderator not know how to use the platform, they were also unnecessarily rude. A new person who joined the room was referred to as a “fuckboi”. That made me leave the room immediately and block the Moderator’s profile so that I did not make the mistake of seeing their room again. ( At a later point, I was advised that instead of Blocking someone’s profile, there is a higher social cost to reporting their profile to ClubHouse. If multiple people report a profile, it receives a “!” sign that is visible to others in the blocked person’s network. So, I went back to their profile and reported them, with details of the incident. )
It is nowhere near as bad as death threats on Twitter.
It’s been a busy 48 hours for me on ClubHouse. I’ve joined many rooms and clubs. I’ve even been invited as a Moderator into a room where I knew no one. I started my own room – quite randomly – and chatted with about a dozen people who joined in. It was polite, water-cooler conversation. I’ve talked about my own self – my journey, my work, my current situation. I’ve listened to others share their stories – their work, life, personal situations, etc. The longest I’ve stayed on the app, at a stretch was 5 hours. It was fantastic. It felt like I was back at an industry event. It felt like I was surrounded by MY people.
There’s been a lot of talk around ClubHouse being a Pandemic app. That it has become popular and has found so much acceptance because people miss each other. And that once we are allowed to see each other again in real life, usage of the app will drop. While I don’t doubt this, I do think that power users will find their space and use case and will stay on.
I have jumped head long into the app and I found myself annoyed when I was not able to find a single Room in my Hallway that interested me. I thought about starting my own but then I remembered that I had to write this blog post.
What worries me is that as more and more people join the platform, the quality of the Rooms and conversations will take a nose dive. It already has in the 48 hours since I joined. More than a million people signed up to the platform within two days of the app being made available for Android users. I suppose that is the curse and blessing of any mainstream platform.
ClubHouse reminds me of the early days of Twitter. Community. Access to people that one would have otherwise never been able to communicate with or hear from. A general sense of camaraderie. Discovering what amazing things people were working on. All of it is currently on ClubHouse. It is hard to predict where it will all go – a game of wait and watch.
For those of us who are jaded with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, ClubHouse, at least for now, seems like a wonderful new addition to the list of social media platforms at our disposal.
Back in 2004, I was signing up to new platforms like there was no tomorrow. This was one of the reasons, in 2006, that I got invited to join Twitter when it was known as TWTTR. I was the first person from India and of Indian origin to sign up to Twitter. The next platform that caught my fancy, was Instagram. It too started as iOS-only. Despite signing-up to the platform quite late, I made it work. And it has served me well over the years. Since then, I have signed up to other platforms that have appeared with a bang and disappeared without so much as a whisper. It is what it is. You win some, you lose some. Over the years, I’ve started paying less and less attention to new platforms because well, Facebook swallows up all of them. They copied SnapChat and built features into Instagram. They copied TikTok and introduced Reels into Instagram. And now, they will copy ClubHouse and add similar features to Instagram – I have absolutely no doubt.
Nonetheless, I have not been THIS excited about a new social media platform in a LONG time. I took a break while writing this blog post and ended up listening to a few professionals talking about IoT. This is a subject matter that I am clueless about and learning about it is not going to directly impact my life, at least in the short-run. ( In the long run who knows! ) But, it was fascinating to hear these professionals talk about their challenges, their new projects and cross-country collaborations.
On a personal gratitude note, I would like to acknowledge Jasveen Kaur. Jasveen was a stranger to me till I joined ClubHouse. Randomly, I joined a room that Jasveen was moderating and within a few minutes, she had invited me to be a speaker and a moderator. Even though I did not even know how to accept the speaking invitation, she was patient with me and then welcomed me most warmly, to the entire group. Due to that one gesture, not only was I on the phone with Jasveen today – we have grand plans for our community on ClubHouse – I was also even more enthused about participating on the platform.
All in all, in my opinion, you should give ClubHouse a shot. You might sign up and look around a few rooms and feel shy or participate. Maybe you will spend the first few days just listening in on various conversations. Or maybe you will take to ClubHouse like a fish-to-water. You won’t know it till you sign up!
If you have friends who have been gabbing about the platform, ask them for an invite. New members of ClubHouse get access to only 5 invites currently. So, most people would have run out. I have 4 invites left over, in case you’re interested, DM me on Instagram, share your mobile phone number and I’ll hook you up. ( Note that if you sign up using my link, your ClubHouse profile will show that you were invited to the platform by me. )
Even if you are on Android, at this point, signing up from an iOS device will give you access to more features on ClubHouse. The app’s team is working relentlessly to get the Android user experience to be at-par with the iOS user experience.
Lot’s of new stuff is coming. For example, iOS users in the US can already pay and get paid on the platform. This functionality will be available for iOS users worldwide within the next few weeks. And this is also coming for Android users with world over, in the next few months.
The next thing that I am looking forward to is starting my own club.