Inside the Men’s Clubhouse Self-Improvement Groups
A DISINCARNATED male voice crackled over my iPhone speaker as I nervously waited for my turn to share. “Before going to see Jason.” . .there are something like 48 people in this room, ”the man said. “I’m just curious: out of all the people in the audience, how many of you haven’t heard of or tried semen retention? “
The speaker, Solay Rad, did not mean space in a literal sense. The financial advisor was moderating a conversation on Clubhouse, the popular voice-only social media platform you’ve probably heard of before, thanks to top users like Elon Musk, Drake and Oprah. Otherwise, think of the app as a merger of Reddit, TED Talks, and LinkedIn. You can navigate a stream of live conversations (your “hallway” and your “rooms” in Clubhouse talk) and move in and out of those that pique your interest (semen retention, for example). Whenever he wishes, a moderator can move you from the audience to join the other speakers “on stage”.
When I first started using Clubhouse earlier this year, I was excited to see rooms with names like Men’s Group and Men’s Mental Health: Inspiring Stories, where mods invited men to become vulnerable and share. their feelings. a look. I was a prime candidate. In my teens and twenties, a personal battle with sexual performance anxiety made it difficult for me to be emotionally available to others. Working with a psychologist has helped me overcome performance anxiety, and learning to be open about uncomfortable feelings has helped me overall. I have attended many men’s discussion groups, where men sit in a circle and talk about their feelings. It sounds cheesy, but they made me feel less alone, and I was hoping these Clubhouse rooms could mimic that cathartic experience of getting rid of my stuff.
Clubhouse founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth seem to have a similar vision. “The intonation, inflection and emotion conveyed by the voice allow you to capture nuances and form unique human bonds with others,” they wrote on the company’s blog last July. (The Clubhouse press team did not respond to my request for an interview from the founders.) I wanted to participate.
The anxiety and loneliness brought on by the pandemic had left me especially eager to form these “one human connections” with like-minded guys. This is how I came across What is Semen Retention? bedroom, a conversation about the supposed physical (and spiritual!) benefits of preventing ejaculation. “We’ll go to Jason then,” Rad said. “Jason, what do you have in mind?” Please share. ”I turned the sound on and explained how I had tried the practice during my struggles in my bedroom but eventually gave it up.
“Some of us who have tried semen retention, we’re like war propaganda about it,” Rad replied with an air of practiced warmth. “But I want to create a balance in this room, so I’m really grateful to Jason for being here.” Was he, however? Unlike some of the previous participants, I was quickly taken off the stage. It was as if the music had started playing during my Oscar acceptance speech. Did I do something wrong?
Rad is the founder of Men’s Tribe, the global masculinity-focused “club” of the semen retention room, essentially the Clubhouse equivalent of a Facebook group. “We have men who have been to our other rooms and they have energy,” he told me after the session. “We could go to them first to set the tone for the type of sharing and the level of vulnerability expected. “
Initially, I concluded that my history of semen retention had not been deep enough. But after chatting further with Rad, I learned that in addition to running a wealth management business, he has a coaching business that offers masterclasses on topics such as wealth building, sexual mastery. and, the maintenance, the retention of sperm as part of a dopamine. detoxification course. He also teaches “highly conscious sales,” a practice he described as the ability to “sell from a space of connection … instead of trying to manipulate and close.”
I wanted to take him at his word when he said he wasn’t using Men’s Tribe to seek clients, but I couldn’t ignore a nagging feeling that maybe it wasn’t. What about the potential solicitation of clients through Clubhouse in the future? “Maybe,” he said. “I think so.”
I told myself that I had had a strange and unique experience, and I continued to explore. In a room called Truth Tellers, a dozen men shared their experiences with impostor syndrome. I spent half an hour listening to their conversational style on the microphone and finally shared my own story. The men on stage flipped their mute buttons, flashing microphone icons on their profile photos – the Clubhouse version of the applause. Later, a student took the stage with a party hat icon, meaning he was new to the platform. He asked how to deal with impostor syndrome under pressure from the Ivy League. A handful of men, including me, offered sincere advice. I was optimistic about the integrity of the experience.
“I don’t even think about [making money off Clubhouse]Truth Tellers founder Shawn Nason told me later. “What I’m thinking is, can we reach the men we need to reach? And I think if we do that, some article on monetization might come out, or not. A day after our follow-up conversation, I received an invitation from a moderator in the Truth Tellers community to take a virtual tour of Nason’s book.
I had a similar experience in a play called Men’s Mental Health: Inspiring Stories. To start the conversation, frontman Adam Hindley said he has struggled with body dysmorphia. Other men shared difficult times: alcohol problems, suicidal thoughts. But again, there was a catch: Hindley and two colleagues run a physical and mental health performance coaching business in the UK, where they charge £ 747 (just over $ 1,000) for a training program. six weeks. Towards the end of the conference, Hindley offered her number one tip for improving mental health: “Get a coach. Even the best coaches have coaches. It was like an over-repeated play.
Later, when I spoke to Hindley, I shared my concern that the Clubhouse’s “safe spaces” might in fact be “sales spaces”. He seemed sincere in his intention to help men “turn their mess into a positive message,” but he also admitted that the Clubhouse is, in fact, “the pinnacle of the world. [sales] funnel. This is where the majority of people come to discover our Facebook group and our training courses.
Mariah Wellman, a PhD candidate studying social media and its influencers at the University of Utah, says the behavior I encountered in masculinity-themed groups and elsewhere on Clubhouse was indeed influencer marketing. “The old business model was, ‘I make this thing, and then I find out who it’s for and market it,” says Wellman. “Now it’s’ I’m human. I’m going to make human connections with all these other people, and then eventually I’m going to create a product and, because these people love me as a human, they’re going to buy it.
After visiting over a dozen similar venues, I ambivalent wandered around one called Men’s Group, where I noticed that the lead moderator, Kapil Gupta, was a self-proclaimed “Master Coach” specializing in “transformation. “. Here we go again, I thought, bracing for the discomfort.
Gupta welcomed ten new spectators to join him on stage. “If you’ve never been in Men’s Group before, there’s nothing to worry about,” he announced. “It’s a pretty vulnerable but fun experience.” I listened as he and his host set the protocol for the play by demonstrating how other men should share. “There is a strange sadness in my system,” Gupta said, describing how disconnected he had felt last week. The way he slowly unfolded his emotions seemed to help other men do the same.
As Gupta finished the session, I was shocked to realize that the discomfort I had expected had never happened. It was the closest thing I had experienced to a real group of men on Clubhouse. Had I found the pure human connection I was looking for, or was Gupta just a good salesperson?
The answer turned out to be both. Gupta told me he avoids soliciting Men’s Group clients, but he doesn’t have a problem with the practice in general, only when it’s done in a sneaky way. “People who are listening are certainly feeling it,” he said. That had been the main difference between Gupta’s group and the rooms I had visited before: how the experience felt. Gupta was raw and honest in a way I hadn’t encountered on Clubhouse; he passed on his value as a coach simply by being himself. If it’s good marketing, more power for it.
The problem is how many guys are not on one Men’s health posting would persevere through all the sliding sales programs to finally find a safe space like this? Clubhouse is in the midst of its gold rush phase, with users flooding the platform by the millions and influencers seizing the opportunity with varying degrees of tact.
In the end, I might have found a few ‘uniquely human connections’ in the Clubhouse men’s groups, but the overall experience left me feeling the opposite of what I do in IRL chats: discouraged and nervous rather than energized and free. Chat groups for men only work when everyone drops their walls. It’s hard to do in the digital Wild West, where your senses are constantly on high alert for danger in the form of sneaky talk from an influencer.
This story originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of Men’s health.
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