The audio-based app has been attracting hordes of social media users in the country through its live platform
KATHMANDU, JUNE 7
Clubhouse has become the talk of the town of late. It's an audio-based invite-only social media application that allows users to create or join voice chat rooms conveniently.
It has been around since March 2020 when it was launched by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth, according to The Guardian. In May 2020, it had just 1,500 users. However, its popularity has increased a lot within a little more than a year - as of June 6, it has 10 million plus users worldwide, and a lot of them are from Nepal.
In the case of Nepal, the audio-based platform seems quite popular among teenagers as well as young adults that include professionals from different walks of life. Prashank Sapkota, 28, entrepreneur and Chartered Accountant from Dhumbarahi, has been using Clubhouse regularly "since I downloaded the app on my phone two weeks ago".
Sapkota said he came to know about the app through "Facebook groups and friends who sent me an invite to join their rooms".
Sharing his experience with the app, Sapkota said, "As a professional, I am finding the app very helpful as it offers lots of information on diverse topics through the audio discussions held in multiple chat rooms. I can easily jump in and out of chat rooms without having to notify anyone." He also shared, "My friends involved in different professions are using the app." As Sapkota mentioned The Himalayan Times talked to several individuals across the country and found out that most of them have been finding the use of Clubhouse beneficial for them and it's mostly through 'word of mouth' that they came to know about the app.
So, why is the app so popular in the country? Sharing his views Anup Timilsina, 19, a Plus-two student in the Valley shared that it's mostly due to "the initial curiosity about the app after coming to know through my friends that even Elon Musk and Bill Gates were already using it".
This led him and his "group of classmates" to download and use the app "which we all are finding as a boon during the lockdown-like prohibitions." For Timilsina, the multiple audio rooms with interesting group discussions on an array of topics ranging from "sports, movies, music, business start-up ideas, among others are not only informative, they have also helped us be occupied during the prohibitory orders".
"If you feel bored, just turn on the app and you are fully absorbed in its amazing world," he added.
The users are also finding the app a good way to connect with people (someone they know or strangers) and develop speaking and leadership skills.
Sanjay Shrestha, 33, an NGO professional has only been using the app for "some 10 days and has already found it very fruitful in developing my leadership skills as a speaker and programme host through the audio rooms".
Shrestha has been hosting several talk programmes on topics ranging from "politics, gender, sexuality, international relationship, among others" in the rooms he creates for "friends and unknown guests".
"Since I have to constantly do a presentation at my job and communicate with people from diverse backgrounds, the rooms in the app have been working wonders for me in my profession and my confidence level has increased to some extent since I first started using the app," he added.
For Srijana Parajuli, 24, a regular social media user, the app has been the "answer to my long wait for something new as it had been quite monotonous only using the regular social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, among others".
Though other apps have interactive options like texting or commenting on others' posts or photos, they do not bring people together, she feels. "However, Clubhouse brings everyone closer through direct talks," she opined.
Parajuli also finds "talk rooms more authentic than Facebook posts" as she believes such posts can be misleading in many instances, and there is no one to fact check it. She added, "However, there is less chance for such misleading information to spread via Clubhouse as the sessions are live and the speakers have to be very sure of what they are saying. Any misleading idea will be contested by the listeners present there. In case of any doubt, one can instantly ask questions and clarify the doubts."
According to Parajuli, she has so far not hosted her own room but has regularly participated in "others' chat rooms especially in Chia Guff - a popular local chat room in the app" which she says is "a good way to start your day through casual conversation about your interests".
Pritam Siwakoti, 23, a Bachelor's level student from Chitwan however has been using the app for an interesting purpose - she is searching for a boyfriend with similar interests in the chat rooms of the Clubhouse "that allows us open up about our love life and problems we are facing".
Siwakoti, who "has remained single after breaking up with her boyfriend some one year back" said, "I have been desperately wanting to be in a relationship with someone with matching interests for a lasting relationship."
"So far I have already chatted with a couple of like-minded guys in audio rooms and a guy has followed me on Instagram. We are already chatting on Facebook as well. It has been possible through this amazing app," she shared.
Siwakoti however shared that she has been "actively using other social media platforms as usual since all the other apps have their own unique features which can't be ignored".
Ranju Silwal, 26, an employee at a financial cooperative in the Valley, who has been using Clubhouse "for a week now" finds it "much better than Zoom and Google Meet".
She said, "Zoom and Google Meet only allow fixed persons in their meetings whereas Clubhouse welcomes everyone interested in its rooms. Similarly, you mostly need permissions to enter the meetings in Zoom and Google Meet which is not the case with Clubhouse."
According to Silwal, since Clubhouse is only audio-based, "its sound quality is much better than the aforementioned apps and I feel a better connection through it compared to other modes of communication."
Silwal also shared that she feels comfortable to talk in Clubhouse as compared to "the virtual meetings in other apps which are more formal".
Although many are already reaping the benefits by using Clubhouse, not all are fans of the new app. "I feel at ease just chatting with someone through texts as I am not so fond of long talks. I also can't post opinions or watch videos on Clubhouse, so I find it monotonous just listening to people continuously," shared Sudip Basnet, 26, from the Valley.
He also shared that he "finds the talks slow-paced since you have to wait until the other guys finish talking. You also can't see or upload photos or interesting comments on the platform."
However, Anuj Gupta, 35, a computer engineer and IT professional in the Valley, has different facts to share.
Gupta who has been using the app "for three weeks now" shared "Clubhouse is getting very popular among Nepali teens since they can use it only after getting an invite from friends - which means they are getting curious about it. Also, as most of the people in the country use Android phones, the downloads of app have increased rapidly after its recent availability on Android phones. It was previously only launched on Apple phones."
The US-based social media app was first introduced to iOS, and then launched for Android in May this year.
The other reason for its popularity according to Gupta is because it maintains users' privacy "as the conversations won't be recorded and vanishes from the app soon after the meeting is over".
Gupta shared that "since your face is not seen during the talk, even introverts can talk easily without feeling shy. This could also gradually turn you into an extrovert by giving you a platform to express yourself freely".
A version of this article appears in the print on June 8, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.