Lockdown 3.0 in London has been the last straw when it came to my general mental hope of getting out of this pandemic. I am generally a very positive person but the relentless lockdowns and uncertainty managed to take the best of me. January 2021 happened to be the worst. I was feeling quite down and was introduced to an app called Clubhouse.
I avoided Zoom Parties like the plague in 2020. It didn’t feel real and I was clinging to the prospect of meeting people in person. I feed off meeting new people and Clubhouse did exactly that. A voice app created to connect people all over the world with all kinds of similar interests.
At first, I was going to rooms that I stumbled upon, which were related to travel and hotels and I felt I was adding huge value to my network. The conversations felt professionally fulfilling. I also found some amazing social rooms. These were comprised of New Yorkers, Californians, and Canadians. We would stay up all night and play random games which helped us all get to know each other but also fill that social void that we all felt throughout the pandemic. I was going to bed at 5 am talking to a bunch of people I had never met, but it was all so exhilarating yet sometimes felt like an abuse of the spare time I had.
This late-night room partying carried on for a month until I stumbled upon one final room moderated by a girl living in America of Persian descent. I had briefly spoken to her once before and that’s how I found her room. It was a relatively small room, but the whole group there was extremely welcoming and genuinely wanted to get to know me and my background. That evening I felt truly heard. Over the course of the next few days, I kept going back to her rooms, learning about Persian culture, sharing FOB immigrant stories, understanding the history of Persian Jews but also overall connecting with Jewish and Middle Eastern people all over the world. I have always had Jewish friends but this group felt unique. When I first began traveling to New York on my business trips in 2014 I was always in awe of what Persians had achieved in America and perhaps these new connections were a manifestation of it all.
As we all continued to laugh, talk and engage over the course of the past two months, we all found our little community of friends spread across the UK, US, Canada, Middle East, and Europe. I feel like I have made a group of friends that are even more real than the engagement I have had over years of in-person socializing. We all video call each other, there is genuine concern for each other and overall we all laugh and have a good time. We are real to one another. We’ve had our ups and downs even, just like normal friends.
The moment I felt the relations were sealed was on my birthday when everybody showed up for a zoom call to celebrate my day. I felt loved, appreciated and to be honest the irony of it all was I chose to stay home that evening and spend it with them even though outdoor dining was an option this year. I felt I was adding value to my day by spending time with these people rather than doing random shots in some terrace which could have waited. I popped my Zoom Party ‘cherry’ and I don’t think there was a better way to do it.
I am grateful to that Persian – American girl for having started those rooms and making it all a beautiful reality. The only frustration is that we can’t travel to see each other yet but that hasn’t prevented us from continuing to build strong bonds and real conversations which we were all craving. So thank you Clubhouse – you’ve been of unimaginable value.