If you spend a lot of time on social media, you’ve probably noticed that in the last month, everyone has become obsessed with Clubhouse. Well, maybe not everyone, but you probably follow at least a few people who won’t shut up about the wonders of this incredible new app. It’s invite-only, audio-only, and for now, iPhone-only—and obviously, exclusivity automatically makes anything better. But what’s the deal with Clubhouse, really, and is it actually worth your attention?
I first heard about Clubhouse back in September of 2020, but not because anyone I knew was actually using the platform. Instead, I learned of the fledgling app because of controversy surrounding a “room” where users were reportedly being freely anti-Semitic. Writing about the event, The Verge noted that the app offered the ability to report users for harassment, but lacked a robust moderation system required of a social network where people feel empowered to share harmful opinions.
Given that this was my first introduction to Clubhouse, I wasn’t terribly eager to secure myself an invite. I’m proud to have largely rooted out Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists from my social media feeds, and the last thing I need is to waste my time listening to internet randos having conversations that belong on Parler.
But fast-forward a few months to the beginning of 2021, and the conversation around Clubhouse had changed, at least from my vantage point. Suddenly, the up-and-coming app was a networking hotspot—the place to be for anyone who wanted to make connections and get ahead. Personally, I’ve always hated the idea of ~networking~, but I also hate being behind on social media trends, so when my coworker offered me an invite in late January, I accepted, and dipped my toes into the world of Clubhouse for the first time.
If you haven’t been properly briefed on how Clubhouse works, it’s sort of terrifying at first. The whole app is audio-based, and there’s nothing quite as unsettling as not being 100% sure that you’re on mute. When you first join, the app pings your contacts to join a designated welcoming room, and before I knew it, I was in a room with two of my colleagues, which I quickly exited because it stressed me out too much (it was 8am, and no one needs to hear my voice that early).
After the initial jitters wore off, I got the hang of it, and the app is pretty simple, really. You quickly learn that no one can hear you unless you ask to speak in a room. You follow your friends and people you find interesting, and rooms they join appear on your homescreen (cleverly called “the hallway”). You can dip in and out of rooms whenever you want, and even listen in the background as you do other things on your phone. In the few weeks since I really started using Clubhouse, I’ve even moderated in a few rooms, speaking about Bravo and pop culture, naturally. Overall, I feel like I’ve immersed myself in the Clubhouse experience, and I have some thoughts.
When Clubhouse is good, it can be really great. You never know who will pop up—from reality stars to A-list celebrities like Tiffany Haddish—and because the platform is so new, it lacks the PR-approved veneer that comes with more traditional interviews and appearances. There’s a tremendous range of content across rooms, from doctors talking about how vaccines work, to TV producers talking about how your favorite shows are made. You have to be in the right place at the right time, but if you get lucky, you might make a useful connection, or hear some tea on a new Bravo show, or get business advice that really helps you out.
But while I’ve enjoyed many different rooms on Clubhouse, and even met a few cool people (and by “met,” I mean we followed each other on Instagram), it’s really not as life-changing as the true devotees want you to believe. There’s no denying that some influential people are on Clubhouse, and the in-the-moment nature of the app can lead to some exciting conversations that you might not get elsewhere, but you have to sift through a lot of noise—literally—to find them. Clubhouse is fertile ground for social climbers and wannabe moguls, and for many of these people, you can hear the thirst through the phone when they’re brought on to speak. Pretty quickly, I’ve figured out whose rooms are worth joining, and I find myself ignoring 75% of the notifications I get from the app. Now that I think about it, I’m sure there’s a way to turn these notifications off, but god forbid I miss Jill Zarin spilling some dirt about something that happened behind the scenes on RHONY 10 years ago.
In my opinion, one of Clubhouse’s biggest pitfalls is its dedication to the audio-only concept. Rooms don’t have any kind of chat feature, which can make being an audience member kind of a boring experience, and from a moderating perspective, you get zero audience feedback. More importantly, it renders the app almost totally inaccessible to those who are deaf or hearing impaired. As closed captioning and other accessibility features have become more common across apps like Instagram and TikTok, Clubhouse feels like a step back in this department.
And a further complaint about the audio-only platform, which I’ve heard echoed in many conversations, is that Clubhouse has no direct message feature. In every other social media app, DMs are a key part of the user experience, but Clubhouse’s only comparable feature is private rooms. Still, I’m hard-pressed to think of a situation where I’d prefer talking to someone I just met rather than sending them a quick DM on Instagram. As a millennial who is pretty averse to phone calls, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
In one room I entered, I heard a discussion about a phenomenon called the “Clubhouse high”—when users of the app become addicted to it, spending hours hopping between rooms, thrilled with the possibility of what they could learn from the next one they stumble upon. For me, this phase lasted approximately two days, before I realized that listening to people recite their career accomplishments before attempting to say something profound about building a brand wasn’t actually that interesting. These days, I’m content as a casual user of Clubhouse, and I don’t see myself getting addicted any time soon.
Images: rafapress / Shutterstock.com
Here’s to annoying couples: may we know them, may we judge them, may we actively avoid them. Unfortunately, the latter is nearly impossible in our culture of oversharing. The good news is that the most flagrant offenders probably won’t be blowing up your feed for too much longer. Read on for the telltale posts that indicate there is trouble in paradise.
1. The -Month “Anniversary”
I feel the need to start this section with a brief etymology lesson. The word “anniversary” comes from the Latin adjective anniversarius, which means “returning yearly,” as well as the Latin noun annus, which means “year.” So it always baffles me when I see couples commemorating their “3 month anniversary!!!” on social media. While it’s severely premature cute that you’re celebrating your relationship’s survival over the course of a fiscal quarter, it makes absolutely no sense. What’s more, it reeks of insecurity. How dicey are things that you feel the need to prove the legitimacy of your relationship with a fake anniversary?
2. Gratuitous Tributes
These eyesores come in many forms, the most common being a weekly #WCW or #MCM post. Don’t get me wrong. I love love and think it should be celebrated, but it feels more authentic when it happens organically in the context of an actual milestone, like a birthday or a (real!) anniversary. We should appreciate our partners, but must this appreciation be constantly performed on a public forum on a weekly basis? These posts are where the cracks (say crack again) really begin to show in a relationship. They come across as reactionary, like the poster is trying to make up for something he or she did wrong, leaving the sentiment reading more like a coded mea culpa instead of the undying declaration of love it claims to be. Why should Chad send flowers to his girlfriend after she catches him texting bitches when he can overcompensate by firing off a #WCW thirst trap on the ‘gram and call it a day?
3. Incessant Vacation Pics
I will confess that I am guilty of posting way more than I normally do when I am on vacation. But I do try to space out these posts and be cognizant of the fact that while I’m posting basic shots of my third pasta lunch in a row, my followers are toiling away at their work desks, secretly hoping that my Aperol Spritz goes down the wrong pipe. Couples on the brink of a breakup, however, don’t seem to have this sort of self-awareness. Instead, they assault your feed with daily posts and endless selfies from their romantic seaside dinner in Santorini (btw, it’s kinda hard to see the scenery in your selfies, Susan) to make up for the fact that they spent the majority of said dinner arguing about when Matt is finally going to propose. The frequency of these posts is the big tell: the more they are posting, the more they are trying to convince their followers and themselves that EVERYTHING IS FINE! The reality, though, looks something more like this:
4. PDA Overload
Beware of the PDA pictures, my friends, for these are the death knell for many a relationship. Kissing pictures are generally tough. I’m willing to overlook them, say, on one’s wedding day, but anything else feels voyeuristic and leaves me with a lot of questions, the most important being: Who TF is taking these pictures?! The more performative the pose (looking at you, dips), the less likely the couple is to stay together. Case in point: I watched an acquaintance post a monthly kissing pic with her boyfriend for several months, only for this gentleman to disappear
in the night from her feed just three months later.
5. Inspirational Quotes
Call the coroner and prepare the morgue, because this relationship is deceased. There is no clearer sign that a relationship is on the outs than when one party begins posting inspirational quotes, especially when those quotes are passive-aggressive digs at the other person. My personal favorite is, “Never Let Anyone Be Your Priority If You Are Only Their Option.” In other words, Chad graduated from texting bitches to actually f*cking at least one of those bitches and YA GIRL IS PISSED.
Actual footage of me reading these kinds of posts:
As sure as the Kardashian-Jenners will find a way to remain relevant, annoying couples will continue to torture us with their undying proclamations of love on social media. I only ask that these couples be consistent in their oversharing. If they’re going to be this extra when things are going up in flames well, then the least they can do is spill the tea on the circumstances surrounding the breakup. Don’t leave us hanging, it’s rude. In these dark times, a fire selfie with the full breakdown of how Angela caught Todd in bed with her barre instructor is the kind of post the people need.
Images: Austin Loveing / Unsplash; Giphy (5)
Since Instagram first became popular several years ago, regular people and celebrities alike have put an insane amount of effort into keeping up their perfect grid. We all probably have about 42 editing apps on our phones, but it seems like we’re finally seeing a shift on Instagram. In 2019, people are finally focusing on authenticity over perfection, and certain celebrities are leading the charge.
The idea of the fake Instagram, or “finsta,” has been around for a few years, and it originated with regular people. Especially for young people concerned with their image, having a secondary (usually private) account is an easy to post more unfiltered content for close friends. But any good trend doesn’t stay hidden for long, and now celebrities are jumping on the finsta train. The concept of the finsta isn’t really new, but celebrities are now bringing the trend of secondary, less polished accounts to new and exciting places. I spoke with Charles Porch, Head of Global Creative Programs at Instagram, to learn about why the celebrity finsta is one of the most exciting things happening on the platform today, and how the trend signifies a larger shift in how we use Instagram.
While the celebrity finsta trend has picked up steam in 2019, some celebs have been more unfiltered on Instagram for a long time. Porch points to Cole Sprouse’s account @camera_duels as one of the earliest examples. For years, Cole has been taking pics of people taking pics of him, and the result is a hilarious behind the scenes look at what it feels like to be famous.
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Who would have thought, the mother with child, would have prioritized taking our picture over steadying her baby's carriage on a moving train? I did. I would have thought. Firstly, her child is too young for The Street Life of Shaq and Kobe, so we all know she was taking that picture for herself. Unless of course she was making a long term investment, banking on the baby enjoying the show when #it grows up. #ItsCalledInvesting. Trying to be sneaky, she made the number 1 rookie mistake, #Flash. My poor, helpless, innocent, virgin brother was caught in the middle of our duel. You can see the fear in his eyes and the determination in mine, both being trumped by the look of shame in hers. #cameraduels #BabyOnBoard #FamilyDrama #TheStreetLifeOfShaqAndKobe
With these unfiltered photos, Cole Sprouse manages to poke fun at himself in a way that’s both hilarious and unquestionably authentic. While many public figures are meticulous about their social media aesthetic, accounts like this are actually more entertaining to follow. According to Charles Porch, celebrity content like this “brings us closer to them, and makes us love them even more.”
While Cole Sprouse has never cared much about his Instagram aesthetic, we’ve recently seen some more unexpected celebrities branching out from their standard posts. Last month, Gigi Hadid hopped on the celebrity finsta train with an account dedicated to photos from her disposable camera. While her main feed is mostly flawless shots from runway shows and ad campaigns, her second account is unedited and off the cuff.
One of Charles Porch’s favorite examples of the celebrity finsta is Lizzo’s account for her flute. Lizzo has had a meteoric rise this year, and her DGAF attitude on social media is definitely part of the reason why. Her main account already feels authentic and unfiltered, so her finsta is pure comedy. Here’s her flute wearing the outfit that Lizzo wore to this year’s Met Gala.
Iconic. While some people will probably never hop on the celebrity finsta trend, Charles Porch sees it as a direct response to what’s happening in the current youth culture. Today’s teens have grown up with social media all around them, so they interact with Instagram and other platforms in a different way than millennials. Porch notes that many teens have multiple accounts to align with their various friend groups, and this is trickling down (or up?) to celebrities.
Porch has noticed that more and more, public figures are finding inspiration directly from regular people on Instagram, and this is more true with the finsta than anything else. With multiple accounts, celebs can “connect to different subcultures of fans, art, and causes” that are important to them. Porch says that secondary accounts are all about celebs “connecting directly to fans,” and that we finally get to “be part of the journey.” We all really want to feel closer to our favorite stars, and celebrity finsta accounts accomplish exactly that.
More than anything, Charles Porch stresses that “Instagram is a living, breathing platform,” so trends like the celebrity finsta are always coming and going. While Porch is confident that the celebrity finsta is here to stay for the foreseeable future, it’s far from the only IG trend that he’s excited about. He called 2019 the “Year of the Legends,” noting that famous actresses like Julia Roberts and Michelle Pfeiffer are finally making their way to the platform. Porch is also excited about the role that Instagram will play in the 2020 election, with political figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren utilizing the platform like never before.
With viral reports that the Instagram aesthetic is dead, and continued testing with disabling the number of likes on posts, there’s no doubt that it’s an exciting time to be on Instagram. Things are always growing and changing, and the celebrity finsta will be an exciting trend to follow.
Imgaes: camera_duels, gisposable, sashabefluting / Instagram