The Dark Side of Clubhouse

Distraction, Disinformation, and the Commodification of Conversation?

The Social Dilemma

The hit Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma shone the spotlight on big tech and social media in particular, and how tech platforms are incentivized to hijack and monetize our attention, something that not only leaves us as hyperresponsive as Pavlov’s dog and compromises our ability to focus and do great work, but also sets up myriad downstream consequences — a pessimistic world outlook, political polarization, self-esteem issues, and so on.

Benefits of Clubhouse

Clubhouse is actually…pretty damned good, and here’s why.

Going Deep

Unlike most social media platforms that optimize for short attention spans, substance-less motivational quotes, surface-level ideas, and booty pics, Clubhouse creates the space for speakers to go deep, with many conversations spanning several hours.

High-Quality Participants

Clubhouse affords us the ability to ask questions of high caliber personalities from a wide range of domains.

Audience Building (without a booty)

It enables us to build our brands through our ideas and our voice instead of through pretty pictures and painstaking videos. Oh yeah, follow me on Clubhouse at @steveglaveski 😂


And we can network and meet like-minded and not-so like-minded people from across the globe, whether for business or pleasure. It’s almost like attending a global conference from your own living room.

Empathy Building

More importantly for some, it empowers us to be a fly on the wall in conversations about matters might usually not explore. For example, I found myself in a room listening to Black Americans and Africans unpack some of the curious dynamics in play between the two groups. Doing so helps me build empathy and develop a more nuanced understanding of these communities and what matters to them.

Distraction House?

As eluded to above, Clubhouse has been designed in a way that if we’re not intentional about how we use it, can become a serious distraction in our lives.

Internal Triggers

The app appeals to our innate desire to be distracted from difficult sensations, to learn, and to connect with other human beings — particularly with so much of the world in COVID-19 enforced lockdowns, and with ever-increasing rates of loneliness.

External Triggers

Not only that but the in-app ‘ping’ function — which could have not been more aptly named — is what Nir Eyal would call an external trigger, sending us push notifications of new events we might be interested in popping in to.

Ephemeral Content

When you consider the fact that conversations are ephemeral and not recorded, a sense of urgency is created.

How to avoid it becoming a distraction:

  • Define what matters to you right now, and what you want to learn more of via the app
  • Set yourself a weekly limit for events, much like you might with, say, local Meetup events
  • Schedule events you’d like to attend in your calendar up-front, rather than being at mercy of pop-up events, and events you’re pinged to by peers
  • Consider turning off the in-app notifications
  • Be vigilant with your time — when you’re working, work, and when you’re with your family, be with your family

The Commodification of Conversation

As I wrote for Brag Media, it doesn’t take us long to go from appreciation to expectation. Previously, if I wanted to access a real-time conversation with the likes of Tim Urban, or Tim Ferriss, I might have to pay top dollar to catch them speak at a conference or industry event, or I might opt-in to a paid online course.

How to avoid de-valuing conversations:

Notice yourself jumping in and out of conversations. Why are you doing it? Are you actually listening to the conversations and taking anything out of them, or are you merely distracted and bored? If the latter, consider doing something else a little more fulfilling.

Beware the Sage on the Stage

As I wrote for NoFilter Media, we should be wary of the sage on the stage.

How to call bullshit:

As a free speech advocate, I am not suggesting that we censor people — one of the beauties of Clubhouse is that it gives everyone a voice.

Founder: Collective Campus, Host: Future Squared, Author: Time Rich & Employee to Entrepreneur. Clubhouse: @steveglaveski Visit: #MELB

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