Do you know what’s trending on Instagram right now? Screenshots of Malayalis being part of Clubhouse discussions! This audio network social app has got to be the buzzword of 2021. Clubhouse recently opened its invite-only platform for Android users. Ever since, the app has been buzzing with discussions on politics, movies, discourses, and everything under the sun. In this piece, we discuss why there are so many Malayalis on Clubhouse, and if it is just another fad.
I, too, recently became a part of Clubhouse. I was confused about its usage like most other users. I was also anxious because of the noise around. But, what excited me was the discussions. I had all the liberty in the world to be a part of the discussions that I chose. At first, listening to others speak felt like my comfort zone. When the host or moderator would ask me to join the conversation, I was hesitant. “Will they judge me based on my statements?” was the question that plagued me. But I finally mustered up the courage and was part of the speaker panel. The Clubhouse room happened to be ‘The Malayalee Club‘ – The first and largest Malayali club on Clubhouse.
It soon got me wondering why there are so many Malayalis eager to be a part of Clubhouse. Is it FOMO? Is it because it is trending? Is it because people were genuinely interested in being part of discussions without showing their faces? Or, is it because of celebrities that joined? I wanted to unravel this mystery!
Also Read: Are You “Malayali” Enough?
Malayalis on Clubhouse: In Conversation with the Founder of The Malayalee Club
So, I spoke to the founder of The Malayalee Club on Clubhouse, Hyder Ali. He is a full-time musician from Malappuram but based in Dubai right now. Initially, it was very hard for people to be a part of Clubhouse because there was a waiting list, and even that did not guarantee entry. Hyder was on the waiting list in August 2019 and became a part of the app only in December that year. Things have changed since then and now the system works on invites where an existing member can bring in a new member via an invite.
Hyder started to host rooms. That itself, was a difficult process because you need to get the eligibility rights from Clubhouse. Again, that’s not the case right now. One of the main reasons Hyder started The Malayalee Club was to create a hub of like-minded Malayalis from all around the world. “So many people joined the club when they saw the word ‘Malayalee’. In fact, there were many people who joined just to hear people speak the Malayalam language. It was a small, tight-knit community of iOS Malayali users”. Then came the Android boom.
Before Clubhouse released the app to Android users, there were less than 2000 people on The Malayalee Club. “When Android users started to explore the app, there was a 25,000 member increase in just two weeks,” shared Hyder. Soon, he had to change the rules of the club and hosting facilities owing to the large number.
Also Read: Sensory Pleasures In A Malayali Household
Here’s what Malayali Clubhouse Users had to Say
When I asked a few people about why Clubhouse has become the new fad among Malayalis, their answers were pretty interesting. Govindan shared, “Some of us love watching debates happen on TV. But, we don’t have the opportunity to be a part of the discussion. And Clubhouse gives a platform to do exactly that, spark discussions. Lockdown kaaranam chayakada charchakal illallo so this is like the digital alternative.”
Another funny response that I received that we can all relate to is – “Aparathe veetil nadakunathariyan malayalikk pande bhayankara ishtaa” It’s true to an extent because Malayalis have always been fond of poking their noses into other people’s business (not generalising), and this platform openly promotes the culture in a transparent way. Of course, there is a set of people who join rooms the moment they see a celebrity on board. Some of them are real celebrities. And some, impersonated! “Only those celebrities who are bold enough to express their opinion are getting on Clubhouse”, shared a user. And yes, I completely agree.
Now, the question is, will Clubhouse survive?
We’ve all seen how trending apps like Among Us, and House Party gained a lot of attention for a short period of time. Everyone was talking about it, and therefore, everyone downloaded it. Will Clubhouse have a similar fate? Hyder shared, “There are a lot of people curious about the app. And many interesting conversations about the simplest of things. Recently, there was a discussion about if an egg should be a part of any biriyani. On the other end of the spectrum, there are many troll groups too. Right now, the conversations are all over the place. Soon, when the trend starts to mellow down, we shall see more value-added discussions. Plus, Clubhouse is here to stay because the opportunity to monetise the content is coming soon. And that itself is a sign that Clubhouse will stay.”
Also Read: Life Of Newspapers In A Malayali Household
As of now, we can’t really know if Clubhouse will survive, but users are finding value in being part of online conversations. In a pandemic stricken world, this platform has proven to be a boon to many users.