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Chat With Us! Or, If You Prefer, Just Read Our Show Notes

Just like almost everyone else on Planet Earth, we've been using communication apps and platforms more than ever over the past year—Zoom, Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, you name it.

That’s why we’ve brought back our Cyberwise Chats—on Zoom and Facebook Live. Held at noon (PST) on the first Tuesday the month, these interactive chats give me a chance to talk with Dr. Pamela Rutledge, Director of the Media Psychology Research Center, and Rick Andreoli, Editor-In-Chief of Parentology, about the top tech topics of the day. Best part of using these platforms is that they allow our chats to be interactive, we can take and respond to questions as they happen. So we really hope you will join us for the next one—Instagram for Kids Under 13: Good or Bad Idea?

We make extensive notes before each of these chats and sometimes I even have time to clean them up a bit to share. So if you missed “Chat Apps: Clubhouse, Omegle, and More,” here you go!



Diana: We settled on this topic because we found the sudden popularity of Clubhouse particularly interesting. Clubhouse is an audio-only social platform where users enter different “rooms” to listen in on or participate in conversations. At the moment, Clubhouse is an iPhone-only app, and you can only use it if you’re invited by another user. Despite these limitations, at barely a year old the app has been downloaded nearly 13 million times. Elon Musk helped popularize the app when he used it to interview Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev about GameStop (now there’s a room to be in). Other A-Listers have hosted rooms on Clubhouse too, including Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, as well as a slew of various experts. In a year when most live events, professional conferences, job fairs and more have been cancelled, many adults are turning to Clubhouse to satisfy that urge to rub elbows and network with others.

The interesting thing about Clubhouse is that is used primarily by adults (a kid told me that’s because there is no dancing on it!).

Question: What is it about Clubhouse that has made it so popular so fast?

Pam: Clubhouse is like the LinkedIn version of WhatsApp, or being embedded in a verbal Twitter stream or participatory podcasts. This unstructured approach has an appeal at a time when people’s media habits are increasingly governed by algorithms, making it hard to bump into something new.

It can be a place to find people with like interests if you’re extroverted enough to find them. It is an extrovert’s paradise. But I’d argue that innate human drives are fueling its popularity, not lofty intellectualism. Curiosity works at several levels. First, anything that is exclusive makes you curious and want to be “in” rather than “out.” Exclusivity works to drive interest and then give you a sense of superiority for being “in.”

Other levels of curiosity are more insidious (and more human) - Why is that person a moderator? Is he/she “important” or just self-promoting? Who are they connected to? What clubs do they belong to? You can go down some serious rabbit holes this way.

Serendipity is appealing. The most effective means of behavior change is unpredictable rewards. Clubhouse is alike a giant slot machine - you just never know what you’ll find but early famous users have created some expectations/hopes that you have a chance to meet influential people

Audio only is an antidote to Zoom fatigue (no hair brushing required, pj’s ok), illusion of panels of experts (e.g. on the stage), audio transmits emotions, mobile and portable (walk the dog), the new “radio,” It allows for voyeurism (eavesdropping with permission).

Things to Know:

  • Drive to monetize, build followers, lead generation, deliver “value” to create relationships, create clubs and rooms. Lots of talk about building audiences (which means social authority), lots of people pimping their services.

  • If you sign up, and someone in your address book is a member, they will be notified that you need an invite.

  • You are supposed to use your real name, so they don’t let you change your handle more than once.

  • You can listen without being heard but your pic and name show.

  • You can click “leave quietly” to leave the room without quitting the app.

  • You can find newbie how-to discussions on how to get followers and start rooms and clubs.

  • You can’t text someone in Clubhouse. Clubhouse is connected to Twitter and Instagram, so the conversations can flow across. People will ask you to DM them in Instagram

  • You can search by name, interest, club or even by emoji you use in your profile,

  • Bio writing is a big deal with some people getting paid to optimize Clubhouse bios.

  • Forewarned is forearmed. Evidence of abuse, misogyny, antisemitism, racism even though they are against guidelines.

  • You can’t record within Clubhouse, but there are lots of workarounds, so don’t count on privacy, just like ALL social media.

Question: There is another social media platform that seems to be enjoying a resurgence in popularity: Omegle. What is it? Is it like a Clubhouse for kids?

Rick: Omegle used to have an app but now it is online only. Here’s how it works: A person goes in, decides if they want to do video or text chat from the two big blue buttons on the page, and then Omegle will randomly start choosing strangers from all over the world for you to meet.