We have this notion of FOMO that pervades and shapes our choices about how we spend every damn cent we have in the attention economy.
It spikes whenever there’s a new app on the block that everyone’s using and obsessing over; we feel as though we are outside of the zeitgeist, we’re missing out on an experience that can’t be replaced, or we’re skipping some unnamed and vague life changing opportunity to be the next big voice.
If you spent the necessary time investing in every single new tool, messaging service or platform for communication, you would have zero time left in the day, and your family would forget what you fucking look like.
You get to choose the platforms you engage with.
You don’t have to be on Clubhouse. If you don’t want to be, if you don’t have the time, if you do have the time but you’d rather spend it somewhere else — that’s actually okay. You won’t miss out on anything of enough importance to make it worth your while.
Sure, there are some great rooms happening. Yes, there are some epic conversations. But your quality of life is not going to be determined by whether or not you’re experiencing those things live and in the moment.
Whenever we tout a platform as being the future of X interactions, we’re hinting that the basic interactions that form the building blocks of our relationships are going to be made obsolete; interactions like sitting down with someone face to face and observing their body language and listening to their words, and devoting our time and attention to them as people, as people of worth and value.
Even if every single person you know is on Clubhouse — except you — the quality of your interactions and your social life will not suffer one jot. You might be on the outside of a couple conversations, but you will be able to make that back in the time you’ll have to spend on the people who really matter.
You can’t bring your whole self to every fragmented app.
Even if you do decide to invest your time in social apps, you can’t be expected to do any kind of good job or have any meaningful experiences if you’re stretched thin. You’ll wind up up half-passing 5 platforms instead of having good, solid interactions on 1. In practice, that looks like posting bullshit on Instagram and mindlessly flicking through stories, while half listening to a room on Clubhouse and never being present enough to have something worthwhile to say and share yourself.
And that doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for any of your goals and it doesn’t work for the community that you are essentially disrespecting by expecting attention and expecting quality content to magically come your way, without becoming a real member of it. It’s a transactional relationship — and you’ll have transactional benefits.
You don’t need to be on Clubhouse, because you get to choose your channel.
I don’t believe in spending any time on any platform that I don’t actively enjoy being a part of. And I know myself. I know I don’t enjoy being on or watching video. I don’t particularly enjoy dropping into instant panels with limited curation and scope, and podcasting isn’t my vibe. I know all this from experience.
I know that the channels and platforms I enjoy being a part of are the ones that focus on the written word. So that’s where you’ll find me. And I can say that without meaning or intending any criticism of any other format; video is powerful. Voice is powerful. Podcasting has and will continue to change and reshape the world.
There’s just no harm in recognising that they aren’t for me, and giving myself entirely to the channels that are. It’s a much better way to live, work and engage.
Joan Westenberg is an award winning Australian contemporary writer, Angel investor and creative director. She is the founder of branding and advertising firm Studio Self. Her approach to messaging, communication and semiotics has built her reputation as a writer, and she has been named as one of the leading startup voices in Australia by SmartCompany.
Her writing has appeared in The SF Chronicle, Wired, The AFR, The Observer, ABC, Junkee, SBS, Crikey and over 40+ publications. Her regular work can be found on Pizza Party, a blog about creativity, culture and technology. Joan is the creator of Transgenderinclusion.com, an open-source workplace inclusion hack.