With topics ranging anywhere from “diaspora wars” and “Let’s discuss RHOP” to “What is BET missing” and “The Darkroom: Building Community as Creatives of Color,” Clubhouse is the newest social app to get people talking. Literally. The audio-based app, which is still in beta-testing, allows users from across the globe to verbally interact in different chat rooms based on whatever topic is decided by the chat room’s moderators.
With a mixture of celebrities, Silicon Valley experts and everyday people, Clubhouse is accessible to use by invitation only. Being valued at over $100 million back in May, the app now has a long wait list and holds well over the last reported number of 3,500 users, according to UK-based moderator @ashleighlouise. She reported a record of almost 5,000 listeners in a chat she hosted on December 13.
The app is described by many as “if Twitter came to life,” and often feels like a multi-way call meets a podcast, meets a radio show. When you first launch the platform, you’re brought to your “hallway,” which is the app’s version of a timeline. In this hallway, you’ll find various virtual chat rooms that are currently going on that you can join. Once in, you can either remain in the “audience” or raise a hand, signaling that you have something to say. Once chosen as a speaker and pulled out of the audience pool by one of the room’s moderators, you will then have the ability to talk among the other speakers in the room. The app itself inhibits the possibility of multiple speakers talking at the same time (or at least tries to), and moderators, who are usually the hosts of the room and topic, have the ability to move speakers back to the audience, as well as completely mute and remove speakers from the chat.
At its lowest levels, Clubhouse functions as a place for you and your girlfriends to kiki about the latest episode of your favorite show. At its most complex levels, the app has proven itself to be the place to hear a wide variety of perspectives, opinions and facts. Many topics discussed and chat room names related to the Black community signal how quickly the app’s Black users might be growing. Another interesting aspect of the app is how influential it’s already proven to be, with chat rooms going on for days at a time and topics even being influenced by and transferred onto other social media platforms to keep the dialogue going.
Some of the celebrities on the app so far have included Oprah, Tiffany Haddish, Drake, Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Meek Mill and Joe Budden. They can jump in chat rooms of all kinds with the average person, including ones who have shady opinions about them.
While the app is ideal for learning about new topics and finding community surrounding subjects or clubs you’re already interested in, be aware that because it’s still in beta-testing, not all the kinks are worked out. The issue that is most pressing is the fact that users can change their avatar and username whenever they want, making it hard to hold problematic speakers accountable or get them banned. Also, it’s not uncommon for topics that affect Black women to be at the forefront, but because anyone can join a chat, anyone can be allowed to voice an opinion unless they’re removed as a speaker by the moderator. Also, chat room audios can be recorded, so it’s best to be mindful of what you’re putting out there just as with any social media app.
Overall, Clubhouse is the newest way to be informed, messy and connect with others online. You don’t have to worry about how you look, and you can hear what others around the globe are thinking about topics you relate to. If you’re hoping to get an invite, hopping on Clubhouse’s wait list might help you get on the app faster than waiting for an invite.
Only time will tell if the app will devolve into the fad of the moment that comes and goes (R.I.P. Vine) or if it will join the list of apps that find a place and great influence in pop culture. In the meantime, you’re sure to hear a lot more about the app as it, along with its users, grows.