a place where no amount of money could buy you a superior experience, and where no lack of money could condemn you to an inferior one — persisted for years. Unlike the rest of consumer culture, the internet seemed immune to class division.
And now? Well, check your creditcard statement. Today’s internet is full of premium subscriptions, walled gardens and virtual V.I.P. rooms, all of which promise a cleaner, more pleasant experience than their free counterparts.
Now, subscriptions are a status symbol. Models and influencers line up to join Raya, the $7.99-a-month, invitation- only dating app with an 8 percent acceptance rate and a wait list of more than 200,000 people….Fortnite character skins — they’re like costumes for your avatar — have become a source of social cachet for young kids.
But unlike with a Louis Vuitton bag, the appeal of these products isn’t to get you noticed — it’s the opposite. People who register domain names at Go Daddy can pay $7.99 extra per year to hide their personal information from searches;
‘‘privacy cannot be a luxury good offered only to people who can afford to buy premium products and services.’’
What the internet once promised was nothing short of complete informational equality,
But today’s internet functions a lot like the physical world, with an income- based hierarchy.