Clubhouse Love or Clubhouse Horror?

Today is Valentine’s Day. The day of lovers and couples. And in times of Corona, it’s kind of ironic this year. In Germany, the lockdown has just been extended and people are still only allowed to meet with their closest relatives. After a year of contact restrictions, requirements, and social distancing, an app like Clubhouse comes in handy.


What is Clubhouse anyway?

Clubhouse is an app of a US developer that currently only runs on the iPhone or an iPad. It is currently still in the beta testing phase and has not yet been officially released to everyone. You either need an invitation or you can put yourself on a waiting list.

This app works a bit like radio, only more interactive.

First things first: You communicate exclusively with audio! Voice only, nothing else. No photos, no videos, no recordings, everything in real time, no archive. If you want to send a message, you use your linked Twitter or Instagram account. Additionally, many users also list other platforms, phone numbers or email addresses in their profile text where you can contact them.

On the one hand, this is the appeal of the app, but on the other hand, it is exactly its crux. Although you can stand out with quick replies, good replies are not saved, and if you were not there, you missed it.


A few insights on how the app works

To start with, anyone can start rooms on any topic or join conversations that are already in progress. Like on the radio, you can simply click through different rooms (stations), listen in briefly, and then decide whether you want to stay or whether you’d rather keep watching. There are no acoustic signals for coming and going, so you never interrupt an ongoing conversation.

Some moderators arrange fixed regular meetings like “Breakfast with Champions” or similar formats that run daily or weekly. But there is also a huge amount of spontaneous conversation.

If you’re not on stage as a speaker, you can only listen. If you want to say something, you have to get on the “stage.” To do so, you can either raise your hand (if approved by the room’s moderator) or one of the moderators will invite you to speak (with a one-on-one request).

Rooms are currently limited to 5,000 attendees. However, speakers like Elon Musk regularly exceed this limit and quickly paralyze the app. As a consequence, performance still needs to be upgraded here.


What I find great about Clubhouse

First, Clubhouse makes you feel closer to other people than you have in a long time. After a year of restrictions, here you are connected in real time with other people around the world and can exchange ideas.

Since the app works exclusively with audio, it totally doesn’t matter what you look like. And yes, many people, including celebrities, are still in bed when they first tune in during the day!

Clubhouse gives access to people you wouldn’t normally be able to get to. Currently, many celebrities are here – in person – listening in on various rooms and are also happy to join in the discussion. How long this will continue remains to be seen.

Since everything takes place in real time, you can very quickly make a name for yourself here as an expert. If you then manage to moderate a room with humor, respect and sensitivity, you can open up whole new audiences. However, if you don’t have this expert knowledge, you’ll be found out as a phony very quickly!

I have warmed up existing contacts in this app, won orders without having offered anything at all and made new contacts – for my interviews, but also for business partnerships.

The platform is very young with great potential for growth. There is still a lot of development going on and new features are added regularly.

Sounds great so far? Well, let’s take a look at the downsides….


What turns Clubhouse into a horror experience

Like everything in life, there are two sides to this coin. Clubhouse brings together people from all over the world – with all their prejudices, no matter what their level of education, and with their different levels of development of emotional intelligence.

This leads to massive misunderstandings, but also to coordinated, intentionally damaging mergers. I have seen a single misunderstood sentence led to 5 rooms with several thousand people clustered together in a coordinated effort to intentionally harm the one person who was misunderstood. Character assassination is not tolerable even on a platform like this, and – something many people still don’t seem to fully realize – can have legal consequences here as well.

The culture of complaining and whining is unfortunately a reflection of our society and is therefore also present here. Such a platform, which functions solely via audio, inevitably requires an extremely high degree of social and emotional intelligence, active listening, and good self-reflection to evaluate what is being said in a differentiated manner.


Should you allow your child to use such an app?

In one discussion, it was suggested that the platform be opened to children. Honestly? I wouldn’t send a child to this purgatory in my life! The risk of a child suffering permanent emotional damage from such a shitstorm is far too high in my view. You must listen very differentiated here, answer diplomatically and treat each other very respectfully. After seeing how many adults struggle with this, I wouldn’t want to subject a child or teenager to this.

Another problem with Clubhouse is that it is highly addictive. Since this app is all real-time, you always feel like you’re missing something. Many rooms are sometimes open for several days due to alternating moderators. You can’t keep that up as a single person! You have to discipline yourself a lot here, especially as an entrepreneur! There is still a day-to-day business and, as with all social media, it is important to work thoughtfully here and with a concrete goal.


What’s next for Clubhouse?

I think the hype around Clubhouse will continue for a while. The manufacturer is currently working on an Android version, which will massively increase the number of users. The invitation policy will also be softened at some point.

The topic of data privacy is – as always in Germany – once again a big issue. Everyone must decide for himself or herself whether he or she wants to be thwarted because of this. When can you follow the rise of a platform live from the very beginning?

The first competitors are already emerging who want to challenge Clubhouse’s position. We’ll see if that catches on. In any case, the audio trend will continue.

Many discussions and suggestions for improvement go in the direction of more engagement for viewers as well (e.g., allowing short polls, reactions to what is said, etc.). Performance will need to be further enhanced to provide more stability as user numbers increase.

Finally, everyone has to decide for themselves if and for what they want to use Clubhouse. For me personally, for example, it is primarily a vehicle for building and maintaining relationships, not for collecting followers. So, I tend to be there sporadically, when the day-to-day business is done, and I can enjoy the discussions without a guilty conscience.

If you want to connect with me on Clubhouse, my Clubhouse username is @monatenjo – feel free to follow me to see what rooms I’m out in.

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