The Daily Gamecock

Review: Exclusivity is appeal of Clubhouse

Everyone loves to feel special, to have the inside scoop, to be invited to exclusive events. Up-and-coming social app Clubhouse plays into this desire to feel elite, and it’s working for it. 

Some people have heard whispers about Clubhouse, which was created and began gaining traction about a year ago during quarantine. Even fewer have been lucky enough to receive a sign-up link to the exclusive, invite-only app that thrives on social engagement and an ability to bring unlikely groups into a virtual discussion room.

The app is a platform for live, interactive podcasts. Users join chat rooms based on interests and can remain listeners in the audience or raise a virtual hand to join the speakers “on stage” to discuss educational topics, such as in the New Grads in Tech room, which mentors exactly what the name says, or purely entertaining ones, such as NYU Girls Roasting Tech Guys, which simulates the pre-COVID-19 experience of “shooting your shot.” 

The need to remain on a waitlist, hoping for an existing user to extend an invite, leads to the appeal. Current users are part of something new; an app that hasn’t been fully fleshed-out. There is also the sparkle of celebrity, created not only by the elite idea that users have been “invited,” just as big-names have, but also by the possibility of ending up in an interactive, virtual space with someone famous.

On Clubhouse, it’s not a far-fetched idea that an user might end up on stage with, or at least in the same room, listening live to someone such as 21 Savage. The app, through its room layouts, creates a feeling more intimate than something such as a radio show. It’s interactive, and people like the idea that they might speak to and somehow be recognized by someone they admire.

More enticing, though, is the personal element that most social media apps lack. Clubhouse sparks conversation between friends or strangers who are passionate about the same things. It’s deeper than platforms where the primary function is to post.

The app allows users to create clubs founded for a shared interest and then host or attend regularly scheduled discussion rooms. Moderators start out the event, and audience members trickle on stage to share their 2 cents in the conversation.

The virtual introductions and conversations satisfy experiences lost during the pandemic. Meet-and-greets with new people, debates with a group of friends and even the ability to listen to a favorite celebrity speak or sing on a stage are all things the pandemic has deprived society of. Clubhouse is giving users the possibility for extensive conversation with strangers, and providing a feeling of belonging to people who have been isolated by the current circumstances.

An audio-only, talk show format is a welcome change from the Zoom calls everyone has grown to hate. It feels like less pressure, and people might feel empowered to speak when nobody is watching them. This encourages more willing participation, especially with the added thrill of wanting to be selected to come on stage.

It seems likely that Clubhouse is going to take off eventually. There has already been speculation that Facebook is looking to create its own app to compete with Clubhouse, a clear mark of a good idea.

In the meantime, existing users can revel in the fact that they are playing a crucial role in the development of a creative platform that is so far only accessible to a lucky group.


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