Friends, I’ve been missing deadlines, ignoring my family, and staying up until 3 a.m. every night for the last four weeks. And much to my shock — it isn’t even because of my seven true loves — K-pop band, BTS. Rather, it’s because I’ve spent almost every waking hour on the Clubhouse app.
If you don’t know what the Clubhouse app is, or you’ve only heard the occasional rumble about it, don’t worry. Most people don’t know either. But they will.
Launched in April 2020, Clubhouse is an invite-only audio app that only allows you to connect with other Clubhouse members with your voice. There are no direct messages, no inboxes, only your profile pic, a bio, and ways to connect with you on Twitter or Instagram, should you choose. Currently in a beta-test phase and only available to people with an iPhone or an iPad, it’s the latest craze and a sign of being hip and trendy.
With up to 10 million active weekly users — quite the come up from 600,000 in December 2020 — it is currently rated 5th in the Social Networking category of the Apple app store. Not only is the app invite-only, people are issued limited invites that are given to you based on some mysterious algorithm of opening rooms, being a speaker, and time on the app.
People covet an invite so badly, there is a resale market for invitations — and folks have actually gone out to buy an iPhone in order to have access to it. (Folks, please don’t do that. But also, no judgment if you do.)
Think of Clubhouse like the world’s largest convention center full of rooms talking about any topic in the world. You have the big arenas with huge seatings where famous people can talk to a large audience. You have the medium sized rooms that range from 50 to several hundred folks. And then you have the super tiny, intimate rooms where small groups can gather. It’s like going to a very focused convention full of your favorite topics combined with your favorite watering hole.
If you’ve been on Clubhouse any amount of time, you know that if you can push through the initial overwhelm, you cannot help but become addicted. Having been on Clubhouse for the last month (a relative newbie compared to some), here is my non-peer reviewed list of how you know you’re addicted to Clubhouse.
1. Your sleep schedule is all fucked up
Number one sign of being addicted to Clubhouse: your ruined sleep schedule. Folks the world over report staying way past their bedtime listening to strangers discuss serious issues like anti-racism or hot food takes. (No joke: I once heard someone say they eat flaming hot Cheetos with milk — like a cereal. He was booed.) I have dipped on a room at 12:30 a.m. only to see the folks still chatting — usually with the same people — when I drag myself out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to catch up on writing deadlines.
2. You are always on Clubhouse
No, seriously. You’re always on Clubhouse. You listen to Clubhouse while you’re driving from one place to another. You listen to Clubhouse while taking a shower. You listen to Clubhouse while you’re taking a dump. Someone I know spent over 130 hours on Clubhouse in one week. That’s more than three full time jobs!
3. You’ve fallen asleep while in a room
It stands to reason that if you’re always on Clubhouse, you may also fall asleep on Clubhouse. I’ve been in rooms where moderators have “tucked someone in” by moving folks from the speaker stage into the audience after they hadn’t responded to conversations. I’ve also totally startled awake when someone laughed.
4. You know your Clubhouse friends better than your friends in real life
It’s like the old AOL and IRC chat rooms back when we were in college — except talking to actual humans! Due to the algorithms, you can easily end up in the same rooms with the same people on a consistent basis, and thanks to the app being voice only, it both cultivates intimacy as well as provides a sense of distance, allowing you to share things you might not normally with your friends.
5. Every other sentence starts off with “So on Clubhouse the other day…”
Yeah, it’s kinda self-explanatory, but yeah. If all your stories start off with Clubhouse, you’re probably on it too much.
6. You feel anxiety or other negative emotions when you can’t get on Clubhouse
Because Clubhouse is still in beta-testing (and also, because it’s run by humans), there are times when the load is too high for their servers (e.g.: when Elon Musk was in a room giving a talk) or some other glitch. When that happens, you obsessively refresh your hallway, check online to see if Clubhouse is down, and generally, don’t know what to do with yourself. Go back to checking Twitter, I guess.
7. It interferes with other daily tasks and responsibilities
I’ve forgotten to sign my kids into classes, missed dinner, and perhaps let my kids go without homeschooling them because of Clubhouse. Don’t at me, who needs to learn how to read when there are vital topics to discuss?
8. You can’t do anything without opening a Clubhouse room
Regular Clubhouse room opener and unofficial resident Clubhouse host @joepark89 opens several rooms a day: one for coworking with other folks, random chat rooms to decompress, and a nightcap room in the late to wee hours for folks to connect. “Clubhouse is addictive because it provides an opportunity to meet people all over the world from different walks of life,” he said. “You would probably never be able to meet all together in real life.”
9. You’re exhausted but stay in a room just to eavesdrop
You don’t even have to talk. You can just sit there listening to people chat and pretend you’re at a cafe and eavesdropping on a particularly hilarious bunch of humans.
10. You experience constant FOMO
There are so many cool conversations happening on Clubhouse that you’re constantly in a state of FOMO. From celebrities taking questions from audience members, to drama, to masterclasses from experts, to hilarious shoot your shot rooms (these are so cringe — but yet I cannot turn away), awesomeness is always happening.
The other night, there was a whale moan room — an improv room where people either were whale researchers or were actual whales who made whale sounds and then the moderators rated them. Yes. You read that right. The best part? Some people thought it was real.
It was ridiculous and glorious and even trended on Twitter. User @melancholiac, whose practice of listening to whale sounds to fall asleep at night inspired the @joepark89 room said, “We never intentionally tried to be funny or clever — and it was wild that so many people joined.” In fact, many participants found it healing.
Ultimately, Clubhouse is perfect because it provides human contact with new and interesting people — and all from the safety of our homes! But the beauty is, you don’t have to be on camera, and you don’t even have to actively speak to participate. But enough talking about Clubhouse — I have to go join another @joepark89 room rating Dragon Ball Z Super Saiyan screams now. Pray for me!