(By Dr. Jinaki Flint for The Grio) A friend recently invited me to join Clubhouse, a novel social media application that is rapidly gaining in popularity. Clubhouse features numerous conversations on varied topics in rooms that are run by moderators. It seems almost like a kind of roundup of group podcasts in a social media seminar-type setup.
According to the app’s developers, there are thousands of rooms that a user can enter to join the conversation or simply listen as it unfolds. There is even a “hallway” with a listing of scheduled rooms allowing the user to plan their time around preferred topics.
The application, at first sight, appears to be a “build-your-own-podcast” structure of rooms featuring a range of topics that can be opened by the app’s invitees. Visitors to a Clubhouse room are placed in the audience section labeled “others in the room” or “followed by the speakers.” Here is where you can listen to the moderators and those who are called to the stage to speak. To talk, you raise your hand to alert the moderators.
Clubhouse room sizes range from small and intimate to very crowded. The largest I’ve witnessed was over 1700 people.
I joined Clubhouse where I checked out rooms about genetics, physics, COVID-19 updates, spirituality, and religion. These rooms were deeply educational and insightful and have featured thought leaders with whom I never expected to have so much in common.
As a licensed psychologist, I immediately began searching keywords related to mental health and psychology in rooms where I could converse with fellow Black professionals and thought leaders in psychology. I was alarmed that many of these rooms were moderated by people who are not mental health professionals.
What I found was a mix of disturbing and dangerous practices led by Africans and Black Americans that were promoted with mental health language absent the underlying expertise and principles needed to make the conversations truly insightful.
In some of these rooms, audience members shared experiences of complex childhood physical and sexual traumas, or of witnessing the trauma experienced by a family member or friend. The stories ranged from physical and sexual abuse to attempted suicides of family members. Continue reading here.