The new voice chat was made available on Android phones last week, but requires an invitation
The new voice chat was made available on Android phones last week, but requires an invitation

HT Brunch Sunday Debate: An invite to talk

Is the new social media app, Clubhouse, exclusive or elitist? What has your experience on it been like so far?
By Janice Sequeira, Gayatri JayaramanJanice Sequeira, Gayatri Jayaraman
UPDATED ON JUN 06, 2021 07:53 AM IST

“People share personal stories without the fear of being judged”

By Janice Sequeira

Janice says the safe space, empathy, sensitivity and candidness on Clubhouse is promoting a sense of community
Janice says the safe space, empathy, sensitivity and candidness on Clubhouse is promoting a sense of community

I recently moderated a room on Clubhouse on whether the app is elitist or inclusive, now that the platform also has Android users. I think it’s elitist but also quite inclusive. Sounds confusing?

Is it elitist? Sort of. People need to be invited or waived off a waiting list, which means you need to know people already on the app. Also currently, most rooms are conducted in English so there’s a language barrier. But the conversations and education taking place on Clubhouse is heartening, clutter-breaking and more inclusive than most social spaces.

A room we recently curated had people sharing their most intimate stories about sex, with over 3.2k people tuned in! While that may seem like a small number for a social platform, it was one of the biggest rooms hosted in India on Clubhouse. Was the title of the room jaw-dropping? Probably. But the conversation was authentic. We had people come up to the speaker stage and share their experiences without the fear of being judged. And there was varied representation across communities. The safe space, empathy, sensitivity and candidness the platform encourages is promoting a sense of community.

Moderators only have the agency of conducting a room but the stage is open to everyone who wants to connect.

Janice Sequeira, 35, is a content creator and freelance journalist. She hosted the popular show Social Media Star With Janice on YouTube

“Old users are grumbling that ‘Androidwaale’ have infiltrated Clubhouse”

By Gayatri Jayaraman

Gayatri says the upwardly mobile are asked to earn their space
Gayatri says the upwardly mobile are asked to earn their space

In 2017, Twitterati mercilessly mocked the #urbanpoor; self-confessed debtors who put themselves in the red to buy an iPhone. You’ll find the same people now grumbling that ‘Androidwaale’ have infiltrated Clubhouse. That ‘noise’ levels have increased, they don’t know ‘etiquette’, when to stop talking, how to pronounce ‘poem’. Reminiscent of Alfred Dolittle saying, “The poor man’s club, Governor: why shouldn’t I?” in George Bernard Shaw’s rendition of the ‘undeserving poor’ in Pygmalion [Act 2]. Shaw describes Alfred like an iPhonewaala does an Androidwaala: “He has a remarkably expressive voice, the result of a habit of giving vent to his feelings without reserve. His present pose is that of wounded honor and stern resolution.”

Those who would break down the segregation of elite clubs are called upon to invest at severe cost to themselves. The Androidwaale don’t have Twitter or Insta profiles in bios yet and the vernacular must make its own club or speak in music. Alfred’s life is ruined by a philanthropist who leaves him a fortune on the condition he speaks publicly six times a year. “I have to live for others and not for myself: that’s middle class morality”, he complains. 

The speakers’ gallery now calling up ‘new India’ voyeuristically asks them to perform in the same way. The upwardly mobile are asked to earn their space.

Shaw also said: “The great secret... is having the same manner for all human souls.”

Gayatri Jayaraman, 45, is a senior journalist, author of Who Me, Poor? and Sit Yourself Down, and is a mind body spirit therapist

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