Two weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about clubhouse as a way to promote my ME Guitarists Lounge and engage with new audiences. I have to admit I was so reluctant to check it out. For after all, who needs another social media platform? And I forgot about it.
A few days later, trying to promote my ‘Lounge’, I subscribed to clubhouse. The first impression was that it reminded me of Paltalk and Yahoo chat rooms from the 90s if you are that old. It works through voice chat rooms and in these rooms, people are moderating a conversation, speaking, chatting or listening. At that point I was hooked, and the magic already started happening.
Most of my experiences over the past few days have been really positive. For example, I connected with an Iraqi trader based in Istanbul who was promoting his exports business. I talked with an Israeli, connecting people between Dubai and Tel Aviv through clubhouse. I listened to an engaging Harvard – or maybe a Harvard graduate - professor, discussing the applications of AI, speaking in Arabic. In one of the Saudi rooms a girl remembering and grieving her late mother moved so many of us into tears. I was happy to connect with several talented and passionate Iraqis, in Iraq and across the world, who are influencing and changing minds.
The peak of my engagement with clubhouse was joining a Kuwaitis – Saudis – Iraqis room, where Journalist Dahem al Qahtani led the group through an unplanned, engaging and honest conversation about the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. He repeatedly said that his original reason for the room was for Kuwaitis to remember what happened during the invasion, and to steer away from another political, heated debate between Iraqis and Kuwaitis. Repeatedly he explained that it was not what he imagined the room will generate, the respect, honesty and hopefully healing.
For me, that experience was the closest I could get to Christmas Truce of 1914. It made me reflect on an eager need for Iraqis and other nationalities, to hold these truces and engagements between various groups. Listening directly to Kuwaitis, sharing their pain and struggle at that time was very enriching and a humbling experience. While I heard about the various stories over the years, mostly through the microphones of media and propaganda, this was an invaluable opportunity to get so close to these stories on the tongues of people who lived them. Dahem said something to those lines as well, he was hoping to visit Baghdad one day, but he didn’t expect that so many Iraqis would come to his house with honesty and authenticity, and it helped him revisit some of his views.
One of the issues that I heard clubhousers complain about repeatedly, is the addiction to clubhouse. Rooms are being opened and continue being opened sometime to a full day. People are spending 10 hours nonstop in the conversation rooms. Other issues include the unexpected and fast growth the app and the company are facing, tech glitches, and that it’s only available for iPhone now .. sorry team Android but we’ve been trying to tell you for years. Facebook and Twitter are rumored to be rushing their own versions of clubhouse. Podcasters are using clubhouse as it’s more accessible and doesn’t require the production time and costs. Best thing that many are agreeing on is you don’t have to be on cam.
While clubhouse seems like an extroverts’ heaven, introverts are jumping on it too. I’ve heard many people – in the chatrooms and in real life – say that they’ve been using the app to feel more confidence speaking, and sometimes feel comfortable speaking a second language like English.
Is clubhouse a fad? Is it a waste of time? Is it overrated? Maybe it’s all of that, but you should give it a try yourself to tell. I recognize that it may have a temporary appeal of a few years. But in the few years to come, clubhouse is likely to be the social media of choice for so many people, and it’s likely to have some impact on our social interactions.