Reality is more compelling than you think

This morning a friend shared an article about declining numbers for the hit-app Clubhouse. Everybody loves to hate a winner, so I think we’ll see plenty of press gleefully covering any backslides in user growth or use on the audio-only app for iPhones.

I don’t think the app is going to go away: it’s a compelling way to share a room with celebrities, and a great way for a famous politician to campaign efficiently while creating a sense of intimacy. There is plenty that will keep Clubhouse going and going strong as we get back to normal life.

But the idea that it’s surprising to see people drop off Clubhouse as the U.S. opens up to more normalcy? That’s bogus.

Perhaps people have forgotten how compelling reality is.

Pretty much every form of virtual visiting and entertainment we’ve indulged in over the past year is a placeholder for something we do in person with other people. And so with everything in this category: virtual reality, remote work, zoom, audio hangouts, virtual conferences, online shopping… my expectation is that we are going to see a massive swing back to the real world as people begin to experience the world with all five senses again.

Yesterday, Denter Sumeet Kanwar said that he expects we will over-enthusiastically embrace remote work for the next year, and then a series of small but important little events and incentives will pull us back towards the office: people will notice their path to promotion is slower than those in the office, people will notice that hallways still exist and conversations still happen within them whether they are there or not, and so on.

It’s a great observation. I sum it up this way: reality is more compelling than you think. We’re a year into a pandemic, and many people have forgotten — possibly out of necessity — what it’s like to go out and do things among our fellow humans. I took a flight for the first time in more than a year, and legitimately forgot that I had to check-in to get my boarding pass!

But as we begin to taste life again, it’s going to be a lot sweeter than we think.