2020 was an interesting year to re-evaluate all forms of communication. In the past decade and with ongoing advancements in smartphones, people were more likely to text rather than call. And leaving text messages instead of lengthy voicemails has become far more common. Then social media came around to widen people’s networking and create a space where they were more interested in talking to strangers rather than friends.
Communication before 2020: The antisocial-social years
Just a few short years ago (2014-15), texting was the dominant way that teenagers communicated on a day-to-day basis. In fact, according to a Pew Research Poll, 75 percent texted their friends at least occasionally, including the 55 percent that did so daily. Meanwhile, the same crop of teenagers surveyed confirmed that only 19 percent talked on the phone every day, 24 percent every few days and 41 percent less often.
But it’s not just teenagers who were anti-voice call. According to Nielsen (via Washington Post), Baby Boomers in their mid-50s and early 60s reigned supreme with phone calls. However, people ages 18 to 34 did a nosedive in voice calls, with an average of 1,200 to 900 monthly voice minutes from 2008 to 2010. And as that group got older, the cycle continued. Millennials ages 22 to 37 (born in 1981 to 1996) still hated the phone. In a Bank My Cell 2018 survey, they dodged the phone for the following reasons:
- Time-consuming calls (75 percent)
- Whiny, needy person (64 percent)
- Turning up to an event (55 percent)
- Someone wants a favor (49 percent)
- Verbal confrontation (46 percent)
- People hearing the call (41 percent)
- Work responsibilities (37 percent)
Ironically, Millennials were most likely to dodge calls from friends (29 percent), parents and family (25 percent), work/colleagues (21 percent), bosses (14 percent), and significant others/partners (11 percent).
Then here comes 2020 and the coronavirus epidemic to make people of all ages appreciate human contact. Social isolation has led to people talking to each other via Zoom and phone more, and traveling over the holidays despite CDC warnings. Clearly absence does make the heart grow fonder. But even with the uptick in virtual calls and social media activity with loved ones, people are still looking for new ways to pass the time. And they’ve managed to circle back to voice calls again. Only this time, it’s on social media.
Introducing Clubhouse and Twitter’s Spaces
Described as “a small experiment focused on the intimacy of the human voice,” Twitter has created its own version of Clubhouse. This is not the land of sliding in DMs (i.e. direct messages), text messages or just following the average user on social media. Twitter is creating what Millennials and Boomers know as “the party line”—not the one where telephone circuits would cross; it is more like the party line where people would voluntarily call to talk to random strangers and move off into private conversations if they chose to. (In prior decades, users had to be careful though because those 1-900 calls could grow expensive fairly quickly and were rather raunchy.)
However, modern technology (i.e. smartphones) and social media have come around in the past couple decades to be a place for modern-day pen pals (i.e. social media followers). If you’ve chatted in your DMs or in a Verzuz chatroom, you’re already a participant. But Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse bring a bit more exclusivity to your social media networking.
Both Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse are invite-only voice chatrooms. Clubhouse is only compatible with iPhones and downloaded in the App Store. Users are placed on a waiting list. It’s clearly a hit so far, because the positive ratings on the App Store are at a 4.9 out of 5, with 165.2K ratings as of publication time. Alpha Exploration Co., the company its owned by, is intended for users 17 and over, and may contain infrequent sexual content and crude humor.
Members include music artists like Drake, actors like Jared Leto, comedians like Kevin Hart, business men like Ashton Kutcher and models like Jodie Turner-Smith. Once you’re in, there are chatrooms for discussions on beauty, culture, film, music, race and technology. If you manage to get into one of these rooms, keep in mind that recorded conversations with VIP members are strictly prohibited, reports Vogue. The app has already proven itself to be the who’s who of social media networking.
How is Twitter Spaces different from Clubhouse?
In its earliest stages, Spaces is an invite-only, iOS compatible app for a small group of people. Anyone with an iOS will be able to join a Space. However, according to Twitter’s official blog, “only people in the small group will be able to create Spaces.”
Spaces are public, and anyone can join as a listener. For those who are eligible to create a Space, their followers will see it in their Fleets (temporary tweets that disappear after 24 hours). Users have control over who can speak, similar to the way virtual call account owners (like Zoom) can mute participants. On Twitter Spaces, there can only be up to 10 people speaking at once. While setting up a Twitter Space, users can select who can join with speaking privileges by choosing from “Everyone,” “People you follow” or invitation-only DMs. While the Space is open, the speakers can be changed at any time. There are no limits on the number of listeners though.
Accounts with protected tweets are unable to join. And only the user who created the Space can end a Space. If you’re interested in giving feedback on Twitter Spaces in its early stages, click here and fill out the Google document.
In the meantime in between time, don’t forget to call your socially isolating family and friends who don’t have a clue what Clubhouse or Spaces are. They’d probably enjoy your pre-2021 form of communication—a text, a phone call or two.