Clubhouse is a unique social app defined by an unusual invite system and an exclusive user base. Its idiosyncrasies seem like they would prevent its growth on paper, but in reality, like most heavily-restricted things, limited availability has only made it more enticing.
Social media is the scapegoat for a lot of the world's societal issues today, and one reason why is that it creates echo chambers. By giving people such control over who can see their posts and then backing that up with algorithms designed to make sure people only see certain perspectives, these platforms all have a predictable nature. The feeling of spontaneity – of being able to truly reach out to a stranger – is lacking.
Paul Davison, a co-founder of Clubhouse, seems to make apps with the intention of solving this problem. His apps like Highlight and Shorts push people's boundaries of comfort and privacy in the name of a new, spontaneous social experience.
Clubhouse fits within that mold. It's an audio-based app in which people hop into rooms for ephemeral voice chats with anyone else who happens to be in the room at the time. Since there's no real permanent record, the conversations are live and feel closer to real-life discussions in a public forum. This may sound like a typical voice chat room, but the catch is that Clubhouse is in a very exclusive beta where only specific people get invitations to these conversations. The app has a FOMO effect no other social platform does.
How Do People Get On Clubhouse
Clubhouse doesn't even have a publicly available app right now. The developers have mentioned plans to eventually release a full, public app but, for now, it's only downloadable to people who have been personally invited. That means its circle is almost entirely comprised of venture capitalists and silicon valley inhabitants. Due to their clout, a few celebrities have also been invited to the party. Otherwise, the only people who even know of Clubhouse are those being annoyed by all the "Look how much time I spent on Clubhouse this week" Twitter posts.
As a result of this exclusivity, it seems the way to get into Clubhouse is to be lucky. People are mostly inviting people they know, and the option to do so doesn't seem to be open to every single user. The Clubhouse website is extremely barebones but it does offer a method of signing up for early access. The site asks you to give your name, phone number, and whether or not someone referred you. Submitting this information gets you added to a waiting list that is presumably then vetted by the Clubhouse team (which explains why most celebrities will likely get access before you).
The nature of it working like a real-life, exclusive clubhouse is a major part of the app's appeal, and also a cause for concern that it won't be interesting anymore once it goes public. The concept of joining a room full of random people to then engage in conversation really does seem to have the potential to grow into something awful the more you think about it. The current form of Clubhouse works because the membership is so small and meaningful. People are listening in on conversations with Deepak Chopra, Gayle King, and Oprah. But its rules will have to change before the app goes mainstream, lest it devolves into a button on your phone you tap when you want to hear some bigotry.