Clubhouse is a hot commodity. It has grown considerably since its launch in April 2020. Last December there were approximately 600,000 users. Now there are over 10 million around the globe. Despite big numbers, it’s still in beta, so membership is only possible via an existing member. If you received an invite, welcome.
As with any social media service, there will always be a variety of personalities. Some rooms draw inspiration and creativity. Others may have not-so-forthcoming folks who would love to talk to you about a business opportunity. In those terms, it’s similar to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It depends on who and when.
But for many, Clubhouse is simply a new opportunity to connect with others. It’s a place to just listen, or if given the chance, to speak directly with another human being in real time. It’s an instant discussion, a conversation without the keyboard. Voice is the only thing that matters—literally.
Hyunjin Jo, a filmmaker in Los Angeles, hosts her own rooms and moderates others with colleagues. She is a member of several popular Hollywood film and television writing clubs that are filled with people looking to break into the business, as well as established veterans seeking to catch up and chat. Since joining this past December, she has become a regular user.
“It took a couple of months before I really started using it, because I really did not understand the appeal. But then I discovered rooms that aligned with my professional and personal interests. The algorithm will then pick up on that and suggest even more rooms. It is like any of the streamers—there will be rooms that you really love, and rooms that may not be for you,” she said.
She explained that Hollywood is the kind of place where, because of the nature of entertainment work, people who enjoy working together may not get to see each other for long periods of time. But thanks to Clubhouse, she’s able to keep up with people more easily. “I’ve been able to reconnect with some people in the business whom I had last seen decades ago. Connecting seems much easier here. It feels more personal, deeper, than other social media. Written words have limited cadence on other platforms, but on Clubhouse you can actually hear the inflection in someone’s voice. It can build stronger emotional connections with others. But don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of BS as well,” she explained.
Much like Twitter, profiles are created by the user, so it’s not easy to vet a user’s professional experience or knowledge. The research falls on you to do, on your own time.
Jo added, “There are thousands of ‘coaches’ and self-proclaimed experts shilling bad information from how to sell a television show to improving one’s golf game.”
The entertainment industry club she mentioned was designed for writers wanting to share business practices for film and television writing and to combat misinformation.
“We just hate to see people new to entertainment get ripped off, being charged for services they do not need or being told to do something that wastes their time under the false pretense that doing so will launch their careers.”
Some clubhouse rooms have “respect agreements” where you click to electronically sign that you will abide by the terms of that club. Nothing (legal) is off-limits for discussion. When it comes to serious topics like mental health, a more cautious approach is warranted. The lines between empathy and qualified guidance can quickly become blurred in a room full of well-meaning folks who may not necessarily be mental health professionals.