The clubhouse allows 5,000 users to connect to audio chat rooms that disappear after the conversation ends. Some users said that its format made them feel more ready to share personal stories and listen to different ideas. One user said in a chat room about censorship that everyone could see that all those people in the mainland were described as disgruntled, just as Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters were real people. They were no longer listening to his voice filmed through the official media.
Since Saturday, I have spent all my waking hours walking from one clubhouse chatroom to another. In one room, a documentary filmmaker shared his thoughts on making a film about a subculture of young migrant workers, Called smart, Who try to stand in a tailored culture through wild hair and piercings. In another, a doctoral student in sociology talked about his experiences as a food delivery worker. A group of feminists read works by feminist writers. More than 3,000 people joined a chatroom, dedicated to parody Hu Zijin, possibly 3G The most infamous Communist Party campaigner. (A favorite line: “As long as we have enemies everywhere, we have no enemies.”)
A chat room with over 100 people from northwest China, where I am, focuses on their interactions with moral minorities. A woman in Gansu province talked about how Muslims in her hometown were portrayed as troublemakers and how she learned to understand why it was disrespectful to hang the Chinese national flag in a mosque.
I learned about the de-Islamization of my home, Ningzia Muslim Autonomous Region after sharing witness accounts of many people. Jin Xu, an assistant art history professor at Vassar College who grew up there, discussed how his drawing of the Nuangan Mosque, a landmark in Ningxia, won the National Award as a sixth-grader, and how brutally the mosque has worked. Rebuilt What he told me in an interview was an ugly concrete building that decimated the exterior elements of Islamic art and architecture.
A chat room asked participants to criticize the governments where they live, be it China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, or the United States. The moderator asked each speaker, “So which government would you like to criticize?” In China, where open criticism is considered treacherous, it felt like performance art.
Several chat room killers, in 1989 in Tianmen Square, were devoted to a heavily censored topic on the Chinese Internet. During the protest, a student leader Cai Chongguo spoke for nearly four hours, shared his stories and answered questions from thousands of people. He said he did not expect so many people to be interested.