Hello. It’s Brady here.
It has been nearly a year and a half since most of us were able to take a trip and trade stories over a shared meal with people we don’t get to see much. Despite the distance, we maintained connections with each other through videoconference and messaging applications.
Then Clubhouse came along. The FOMO was extreme. For a moment, it felt like you only had a voice if you were speaking to strangers through the app.
There was comedic relief in rooms where hundreds of people communicated in mangled whale songs, and unfiltered conversations with history-making figures like Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose room was consistently packed to its 8,000-person capacity.
Like any platform where dialogue flows freely, people adapt Clubhouse to their needs and objectives. With that in mind, KrASIA’s reporters examined how Clubhouse is used in Southeast Asia, where informants, “show-offs,” and cyber police are part of the experience. While the platform is used in Indonesia for networking, disseminating investment tips, and tarot readings, over in Thailand, it became a sensation after influential figures, like an exiled critic of the monarchy and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, became prominent voices on the app.
A similar situation is unfolding in Myanmar, where the effects of February’s military coup is still felt every day, in every facet of life. Human rights activists use Clubhouse to generate awareness about the plights of the country’s minorities. More broadly, people discuss matters related to junta rule and explore what “national unity” means when different ethnic groups define their identities in divergent ways.
Even though Clubhouse has been labeled as a “free speech haven” in some corners of the world, there is no shortage of cyber police who monitor the platform’s activity, or informants who lurk in rooms and record information about speakers and participants.
Nevertheless, people are compelled to put their thoughts into spoken words. We are wired to do this, even if it means taking a risk once in a while.
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