Clubhouse, access, and social change

Back in the day, in the 2000s, clubbing meant loud Christina Aguilera or Justin Timberlake music, drinks, dancing with your girlfriends, and excitement at where the nights took you. In fact as I write this, I’m listening to Dirty – old school (or just old) Aguilera. The app Clubhouse however has borrowed from the old clubhouse idea – and not partying in your 20’s.

The app is an invitation-only, audio-chat, social networking app. It’s a combination of the OG AOL Chatrooms, TedTalks, with the exclusivity factor of college-emails only Facebook. This Washington Post article will give you the Clubhouse 101 on who’s on it, what it brings to the market etc. – but suffice to say that Zuckerberg, Musk, and Oprah have all graced the “halls” of Clubhouse.

What stands out to me, more than the celebrity factor, is the potential to create real social change. To provide the platform for discourse. And to do it in a way, where it’s not contributing to social media noise. When you sign up for it, you’re asked to link to other social media accounts – but rather than anonymity that can contribute to a hostile environment (Facebook comments, I’m looking at you), you’re being asked to own your comments. 

I watched one of the most excellent hours on television this week – an episode of the show Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,  where there was a real conversation about race, bias, and opportunity, set in Silicon Valley. The type of conversations that don’t happen enough – that are uncomfortable and compel you to confront your own biases. And then today I saw this on Twitter.

I’ve been a passive user of clubhouse, waiting for something that would spark my interest besides its exclusivity. And this did. A conversation with two of the actors and the show’s writer?

Intrigued? NPR covered the app recently. And the New York Times reported that – to no one’s surprise – Facebook is working on a competing product. Although, I’m afraid that might just be more noise!

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