Craving a Clubhouse App Invite? Keep reading…
Clubhouse is the new audio-only social media app that has sparked quite the debate in recent weeks. Parts of Clubhouse are amazing. Other parts? Not so much. Here’s why.
Take every childhood insecurity and put it on blast. Be prepared to be transported to how you felt in 6th grade when you never felt popular enough.
Clubhouse possesses a magical ability to make grown professionals feel not good enough. How is that possible? Usually, as adults, we have more control over our surroundings. But when you enter a Clubhouse room, you are suddenly transported to an alternate reality where you are at the mercy of the moderator.
Will I get to speak?
Will they pick me? Please pick me!
I raised my hand! It has been 3 hours. (Why did they now turn hand-raising off?)
Am I not good enough?
They added me to the stage. This is amazing!
They only let me speak for 60 seconds and moved me to the audience.
Was what I said not good enough?
Do I not have enough followers?
Do I not make enough money?
This room has millionaire in the title. Many people I know are waiting for PPP loan forgiveness. Is everyone else on Clubhouse doing better financially? Should I be making billions of dollars using growth hacks like these ‘experts’ mention on Clubhouse? (Side note. Do you ever wonder if these people are truly making millions of dollars if they are on Clubhouse twenty-four hours a day? Who is actually doing the work?)
I have never left a Clubhouse room feeling better about myself. In fact, in every room I left, I typically felt worse about myself (except for the room I host every Sunday night).
Then there is the cultural component of the misogyny that often reigns supreme on the app. It is important to note that misogyny exists not only with male moderators but with women-led moderators, too.
Of course this issue is larger on social media than with Clubhouse, but the optics of Clubhouse can often make this issue come to light in a way it is often not seen or ‘heard’ on other social media platforms.
Why do we leave women in Clubhouse rooms with their hands raised for three hours? Why are we choosing women to speak who are only in the ‘in-crowd’ of social media circles? Shouldn’t any woman have a chance to speak, regardless of her follower count? I believe everyone has something valuable to contribute, and if we only listen to those with high follower counts and extra 0’s in their bank accounts, we may be missing out on an opportunity to learn from other people.
I have a theory. Clubhouse speakers promote people who are already popular and have social clout prior to the app.
TLDR: If you weren’t popular with industry influencers or on the speaking circuit before Clubhouse, you most likely won’t be elevated on the virtual stage after joining Clubhouse. This is not a fault with Clubhouse; it is an issue that exists with certain moderators.
If more moderators choose to raise the profile of other people who are less well known, Clubhouse could serve a very important purpose. But if moderators only bring people on stage who are were already popular pre-Clubhouse, they aren’t actually opening up the stage to anyone else who wasn’t on it before. Instead, they are just sharing the stage with their friends and people they already knew. In my opinion, this is the opposite of open dialogue and creates a high school like environment that makes people left out, instead of included.
To the moderators of #clubhouse rooms: a gentle reminder that when you don’t call on a woman with her hand raised for *3 hours* you are silencing her. Do not run your rooms with misogyny. Don’t add women to the stage as props either. What does misogyny look like? This ✋+ 👩🏼 + ⏰
— Kristen Ruby (@sparklingruby) January 3, 2021
Clubhouse is one of the few platforms that should ideally be rewarding people based on intellectual contribution to a conversation. When you strip away how people look in pictures and photos, all you are left with is how they sound and what they know.
In essence, it’s hard to fake knowledge, unless you are truly a skilled liar.
But of course, Clubhouse is filled with a lot of those, too.
How many people have ever really checked the tax returns of influencers on Clubhouse who say they are billionaires? Probably zero. In other words, I could tell you I am a billionaire too, and if no one fact-checked it, you might just believe me.
Furthermore, I believe that our country is on the brink of a digital civil war. What we need is open and honest conversations about how to tread forward and engage in civil discourse, not how to become a billionaire.
We don’t need more billionaires right now. We need more people who can simply pay their rent and not get evicted. If you don’t understand this, you may be out of touch with what most Americans are going through. Do not exploit someone else’s hardships for your personal gain. So much of marketing is not only about the messaging, but also about the timing of the message. Clubhouse moderators need to create rooms that meet people where they are at.
Many Americans are waiting on stimulus checks and may have lost their jobs during the pandemic, yet on Clubhouse, you would never, ever know that.
Clubhouse is an alternate universe of escapism, devoid of reality.
The rooms we choose to engage in either perpetuate that reality or lead to more echo chambers.
In one entrepreneur group I a member of, a man posted about how to get respect from women because he felt insecure that he didn’t have enough 0’s in his clubhouse bio to disclose his financial earnings. This is a direct result of the culture of insecurity that is being created on Clubhouse. We are taking competent and successful entrepreneurs and making them feel like they are still not good enough.
Professional success was the one area many of us felt okay about, and now, social media is eating away at that too.
Many people who became entrepreneurs may have never felt good enough to begin with. Some entrepreneurs already had deep-rooted insecurities; the culture of Clubhouse is exploiting these insecurities in ways I have never seen in fifteen years of running my own company.
The suicide rate is high in the entrepreneurial community. Last year at an annual entrepreneur retreat in Utah, we mourned the loss of a successful entrepreneur who took their life.
My hope for Clubhouse is that people will create rooms that support entrepreneurs so they feel less alone and build a community. As entrepreneurs, it is our responsibility to be vulnerable and help others. In other words, lets be part of the solution, and provide the support to others in our community that we so desperately need.
Creating a culture around fear of missing out and not making enough money or having enough stuff makes people feel worse, not better.
Clubhouse could be a tremendous portal for entrepreneurs to provide support to each other during a difficult time. Instead, rooms have emerged where people are giving away money to “the poor people” in the audience to show just how successful they are.
This ego gratification only hurts the cause they claim to help.
Then there are the moderators on ego trips who refuse to let anyone else speak, and when they do, they phrase it as: do you have any questions for us to learn about how successful we are?
Stop right there.
Do you think Steve Jobs would have said- do you want to ask me about how successful I am?
Do you think Bill Gates would host a Clubhouse room titled “How to become a billionaire”? 💰💰💰
If you are successful, you don’t need to shout it from the rooftops. You show it through knowledge.
If you have made money, share how you made it, instead of disclosing how much you make.
Lift people up instead of bringing people down.
People should feel better about themselves when they leave your Clubhouse room, not worse.
The scariest part of all of this is that Clubhouse prohibits the recording of rooms unless everyone consents, which means that if verbal abuse or emotional manipulation does take place in the rooms, no one will ever know about it, and you will most likely be gaslit by the person in question.
So, what is the solution to all of this?
Clubhouse is not an opportunity for you to stand on a virtual stage and go off on a power trip. The digital divide of the stage and audience is part of the problem. I started a Clubhouse room called YEC (Young Entrepreneur Council) Sundays to address this. Here is my solution.
Kris Ruby’s Clubhouse Room: Moderation Tips
- Everyone gets to speak. I bring all YEC members on stage. The room is not about me (the moderator). Instead, it is fundamentally about the participants. When I close the divide between the stage and the audience, it creates unity instead of separation. As the moderator, I am not more important or powerful than the people listening to the conversation. Fundamentally, if you don’t understand this, you shouldn’t be hosting a room on Clubhouse. You will most likely cause severe emotional harm to the participants in ways you cannot fathom.
- No power trip of the moderator. The room is for others, it is not to hear me speak in platitudes or go off about success. In fact, one of the members has ‘failure expert’ in their bio, which perfectly represents the motto of this room. We want to learn from failure, success, and most importantly, what was not successful. YEC Sundays are a place for support for members of our entrepreneur community. If you are part of this paid network, it is already assumed you are successful. Therefore, everyone is vetted prior to coming into the room to begin with. During one of the rooms I hosted, I had to put out a fire on Instagram that had nothing to do with the room. Do you know the measure of a successful Clubhouse room? It can go on with or without you. That is true leadership. When the room doesn’t rely on you, it can sustain without you controlling every second of it.
- The room is more for entrepreneur support than brand building. We don’t need a room to build an audience. We need a room to share ideas. It’s an entirely different framework and use case. All of us already have audiences who are in the room. Someone asked if I wanted to get more people to the room. They encouraged me to ping more members and get more people to learn from us. I said no and the participants of the room echoed that sentiment. For entrepreneurs to truly share their struggles, they need to feel they are in a safe space with like-minded members. The last thing they need is to feel like they are on a stage having to perform. They have to perform every day of their lives. Support is not the same as clout chasing performance. The Clubhouse room I created revolves around community and support, not brand building. In order to give support, you need to be coming from a service mentality to be able to help other people. You can’t give what you don’t have. Therefore, the room is for givers, not takers. When you structure a room as – look at us on stage and take our knowledge- the power dynamic is fundamentally flawed from the beginning. Collaborative rooms are about giving and taking, not just extracting knowledge without paying for it or setting a dynamic of someone on top (the stage)- which means someone else has to be on the bottom (the audience).
- No talking about money. If you are in the room and are a paying member of this particular entrepreneur community, that is already implied. It’s the old adage; those who have money don’t need to talk about how much money they have. People have said it is the best room on Clubhouse. There are usually 12 people in each room I have moderated with my co moderator Rachel Beider, and the conversations are phenomenal because the ego-based (look at me I’m rich) garbage isn’t allowed. Again, the obsession with talking about being a millionaire is devoid of the reality most Americans are in and only causes more anxiety. I want to create rooms that add something to the world- the rooms that only talk about being a millionaire make people feel like garbage (and cause a lot of anxiety for many).
- The room is not held during billable hours. As entrepreneurs and founders of companies, clients pay for our time during the day. If your clients are purchasing billable hours and you are then using those hours to host Clubhouse rooms, you are stealing time from clients who are paying for it. That is why my rule is to host this room on Sunday nights. The experience is guilt-free and you can feel good about the decision to participate in the room instead of feeling like you are taking time away from client work.
We need to fight for the world we want to create instead of accepting the world we see (on Clubhouse and beyond). Just because something appears a certain way, it doesn’t have to be moving forward. We can collectively make a better world that is more inclusive and that sets the tide to give everyone an opportunity to speak. Do not accept that things will always be the way they are. We are responsible for showing people how to treat us and we show that through our knowledge and contribution to a conversation.
People pay attention to us when we say something worthy of respect. We do not earn attention and praise for publicity stunts in Clubhouse rooms by screaming at the moderator in front of a live audience.
Stop turning Clubhouse into your 7 seconds of fame. Clubhouse is not your 24/7 reality show.
While you can certainly generate short term attention, it is not the way to change the tide or garner the long-lasting, meaningful change you are looking for.
Instead of complaining about how bad things are, be the change you wish to see in the rooms. If you notice misogyny on Clubhouse, stop supporting rooms that encourage it. This means not entering these rooms, not adding to their room count number, and not supporting the rooms that do not give women an opportunity to speak on the virtual stage.
Create your own room and create your own rules (like I did!). Do not wait for someone to pass the mic to you. Take the reins and claim the mic in your own room.
When you are given the mic, don’t abuse the privilege. Don’t talk for the sake of talking.
We must not use social rhetoric to try to steal the stage if we haven’t earned the stage to begin with.
As a moderator, I don’t need to hear my voice to feel important. More people would be left on stage and given speaker rights if they fundamentally understood this concept and didn’t take advantage of it.
If you want to stay on stage, add measurable value to a conversation, and speak in sound bites that are on topic.
Where ninety-nine percent of people go wrong is that they get the mic on stage and think that means they have to say something.
Sometimes those who say less often have more powerful things to say than those who speak incessantly.
Controlling the words when you do speak is what matters.
Endlessly talking for hours is more about ego than it is about service to a community.
Performative entrepreneurship is not the same as real entrepreneurship. Clubhouse is filled with a culture of performative entrepreneurship; as entrepreneurs, it is our job to share both the good and bad of the lifestyle, so that we give people an accurate picture of what this truly entails.
Unfortunately, many of the emerging issues we see taking place on Clubhouse stem from the overall lack of etiquette people have in real life, which now translates to digital media platforms.
We cannot change the toxic environment without first changing the root cause of the decline of offline etiquette, morals, and values, which have bled into every area of social media discourse (or lack thereof).
I got attacked yesterday in my Clubhouse room– our culture is shifting, Fortunately, Kristen Ruby jumped in to defend me –
ABOUT KRIS RUBY
KRIS RUBY is the CEO of Ruby Media Group ® an award-winning public relations and media relations agency in Westchester County, New York. Kris Ruby has more than 13 years of experience in the Public Relations industry. Kris Ruby is a publicity and media relations strategist. Ruby pitches media stories that generate an uptick in visitors, sales, traffic, leads and brand lift. She has secured top-tier national media coverage for doctors in high-profile outlets and publications. Kris Ruby is a trusted media source and frequent on-air commentator. Ruby is a sought-after media relations strategist, personal branding specialist, content creator and public relations consultant. Kris Ruby is also a national television commentator and political pundit and she has appeared on national TV programs hundreds of times covering big tech bias, politics and social media. She is a trusted media source and frequent on-air commentator on social media, tech trends and crisis communications and frequently speaks on FOX News and other TV networks. She is a published author in OBSERVER, ADWEEK, and countless other PR and digital marketing industry publications. Her research on brand activism and cancel culture is widely distributed and referenced. She graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication with a major in public relations and is a founding member of The Young Entrepreneurs Council. She is also the host of The Kris Ruby Podcast Show, a show focusing on the politics of big tech and the social media industry. Kris is focused on PR for SEO and leveraging content marketing strategies to help clients get the most out of their media coverage. For more information about Ruby Media Group ®, visit https://www.krisruby.com and https://rubymediagroup.com
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About the Author
You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.
You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.