The social network Best of All Worlds is five years old (ancient by Silicon Valley standards) and has just a tiny fraction of the users its contemporaries like Facebook and Twitter have. But Best of All Worlds isn’t failing. In fact, the social network’s founder doesn’t really want any more members. Best of All Worlds (or BOAW, as its members call it) is one of several exclusive social networks for the internet’s 1 percent — an elite, close-knit group that most likely does not include you.
Lack of accessibility has always drawn attention. Since the late 1800s, country clubs have provided a plush, invite-only space for the upper crust. But recently, many real-world country clubs have seen membership stall or decline. In 2016, Bloomberg reported that country clubs for golfers were suffering from the “golf recession” — rising membership fees and fewer amenities coupled with a declining interest in golf were frustrating long-term members while new membership stagnated.
But as brick-and-mortar country clubs have struggled to hold on to their Rolex-wristed loyalists, digital country clubs have seen rapid growth online. Over the past decade, exclusive social media networks, high-powered networking groups, and tiered dating apps have become common alternatives to their real-world counterparts.