Clubhouse for Introverts: Does it make sense to join the voice social network if you don’t love public speaking?
I have never liked telephones. Ringing a bell or hearing its ringing gives rise to dark enigmas that get on my nerves. “Have I been in the wrong door?”, “Is he a murderer?”, “Will we be able to communicate successfully through that junk that sounds like a walkie talkie in a trash can? ”,“ Did he get in? ”,“ Will I push the door in time? ”. Clubhouse, the hottest app, is a massive neighborhood yard with doors and windows wide open. Newcomers do not ring the bell: they parachute over the open rooms of this social network, based only on audio, born in 2020 and for now restricted to users with the fortune of having an iPhone and an invitation.
After resorting to the generosity of third parties to fulfill the above requirements, I landed on the new platform on a Thursday morning. To access, just enter the phone number to which the invitation was sent, enter a confirmation code, select the areas of interest — knowledge, international affairs, sports, places, technology, entertainment, art… – and follow your friends.
The problem with arriving at Clubhouse with a borrowed iPhone is that, without the possibility of importing the contacts from the device, I find myself alone in the midst of endless groups of strangers talking: one is talking about the best way to use Telegram, others they seem for people who keep company while walking, there is a room where a meditation session is taking place. Then comes to light a renewed version of the enigmas of the intercom: “Who are these people?”, “Are they seeing me?”, “What if they say something to me?”, “What if I try to speak and not they understand?”,
Entering a room full of people is easy, nobody will notice a new avatar when there are more than 300 users connected. Peeking into smaller conversations is another matter. When I get to one of the groups of people walking, I see my name next to that of four other people. 10 very long seconds pass. Nobody talks. Someone is breathing hard. I get distressed and run away in a hurry, like someone who just rang the wrong bell.
A friendly voice
In this populous and digital house in Tócame Roque, meeting a friend is like running into a Spaniard in a distant land. After doing some business on WhatsApp —Clubhouse does not allow you to send text messages—, a familiar voice tells me that it has been on the platform for two weeks: “I think it is having a lot of success because it is a bit like going out to the bar with friends when not you can go out to the bar with friends. You finish work and you say, ‘I’m going to the Clubhouse for a bit.’ And on top of that, you have a parish that listens to you ”. The sound is crystal clear, no echoes of walkie talkie nor lags in transmission. Better than a WhatsApp call, but without additions that make it more convenient than a lifelong phone for a conversation between two people.
With renewed courage, I go back to the endless corridors of this social network, in search of new chatter. Apparently Jared Leto, actor, singer, and illustrious pioneer Clubhouse user, is in one of the rooms. After 20 minutes listening to unknown voices organizing what seemed like a campaign to ask the founders of the platform to do something to stop the trolls – beans are cooked in all the ovens – I went to breakfast convinced that Leto was neither there nor I was waiting for you.
Jump to the club startups, I hear an entrepreneur recite a poem and explain the virtues of his startup, which, as I can understand from the shower, seeks to connect creative minds in a talent network based on blockchain. A voice that appears to be from an investor explains that he is still waiting to see a truly useful application of this technology. According to the application, there are another 416 people connected. The room is so crowded that it is impossible to locate the avatar of the speaker.
The face of Clubhouse
When I am about to leave in search of better pastures, I hear a gossip that satisfies the maruja in me: that person who smiles in profile in the new Clubhouse logo is Axel Mansoor, the organizer of the Lullaby Club – nanas club -, where lullabies are sung every day at 9 p.m. (Pacific time). I set the alarm clock at 6 in the morning Spanish time and go back to the neighboring patio.
An apparent positive point of this social network model is that it does not require you to stare at the screen, which saves hours of scroll mindlessness that other social networks feed and allows you to share the time dedicated to this application with other activities. At 1:00 p.m. I get on the stationary bike just as a new session of talking and walking begins where an average of 10 people – counting the sheep that enter and those that leave -, talk about the first thing that comes to mind while they try to reach their 10,000 steps a day. After almost a year of solitary teleworking, the company is appreciated although I feel that I am putting the antennas in an alien conversation. After half an hour, tired of following the thread of the talk and the instructions of the training, I abandon the walk.
I complete the morning at the Clubhouse with the feeling that wandering through the social network is like wandering through an unknown city. You end up in a special corner that is worth returning to, as well as in an industrial estate where there is nothing to see. It is a bit artificial and even elitist that only iPhone users who have been invited participate in these conversations, but it is supposed to be a matter of time before the platform opens to the world.
In the afternoon, I happen to fall into a very interesting conversation about the music industry and how the new platforms have turned upside down the demands that artists must meet to make a living on them. I take it to the supermarket and follow it closely as I decide if the morning bike will allow me to buy a bag of chips. The experience is not different from listening to the radio or a podcast, although perhaps there is something more of closeness and spontaneity, with people who add themselves to the dialogue casually, like someone visiting a friend’s house because they are in the neighborhood .
Lullabies at dawn
At 6 in the morning, partially revived by the alarm clock, I crawl to the Lullaby Club, already underway, where I am greeted by the chilling whisper of the moderator on duty. Apparently, it is mandatory to speak in a low voice and the dynamics of an open mic is followed: a group of singers who have previously signed up lull the more than 400 listeners with acoustic versions of all kinds of songs. In addition, since it is Thursday, it is possible to make requests via Instagram. Once awake, I take the lullabies on the bike and although I doubt that I will get up early for it, I quite enjoy the performances, which include a surprising mash-up from Baby’s got back, de Sir Mix-a-lot, y Slow dancing in a burning roomby John Mayer.
Against all odds, there is room in this corrala for those who fear telephones and in general, situations that potentially involve speaking before an unknown audience. It makes sense to be a silent part of the network and use it as another source of entertainment: “I’m bored, what’s going on in the Clubhouse?” It is not that it is an essential forum and its success may drink from the generalized confinement imposed by the pandemic. In any case, there is no doubt that the crazy things that can be done on the platform are yet to be seen.