Social networks are, like subways and post offices, largely considered to be great equalizers. These days, everyone is on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and these sites are supposed to level the playing field, allowing people from all over the globe to communicate.
In recent years, though, news of exclusive dating apps like Raya has made the rest of the world feel like the peasants we truly are, and we've also learned of the existence of elite social media platforms that are basically the Frank Ocean song “Super Rich Kids” come to (digital) life.
Described as “digital country clubs”, these apps for the rich, famous and well-connected essentially operate like IRL country clubs – or secret societies, if you’re feeling nasty – to allow their users the sense of privacy and exclusivity they crave. Suzanne Dour, a member of Best of All Worlds, said she likes the app because it makes her feel “comfortable sharing exactly where I am and what I’m into.”
These apps are the expensive, members-only clubs we all try to get into, the Soho House of social media, and they couldn’t be more desirable an online location. Read on to learn about the apps you’ll likely never be a member of, and sigh as you log back onto Facebook in defeat afterwards:
Raya is, for all intents and purposes, the coolest and chicest app on this list. Albeit more well-known than some of the others, Raya is likely the first app that comes to mind when people think about celebs trawling for hookups.
Although it’s jam-packed with real celebrities, people have also reported seeing Instagram-famous celebs on it too, so if you have over 100k followers on IG, you may be able to cut the line of this exclusive club.
Best of All Worlds
Known affectionately as “BOAW” to its users, this luxurious digital getaway appears to be one of the leading apps cornering the market for exclusive social networks.
It’s not hard to see why: BOAW was founded by Swedish count Erik Wachtmeister, who founded a similar network called “A Small World” as a “Myspace for the elite” during its heyday.
The network's hybrid approach makes it a sort of middle ground between Facebook and LinkedIn, because, of course, for the monied and well-connected, business is pleasure.
Like most über-cool hangouts, BOAW is invite-only. It’s unclear what, if any, cost is involved with joining, making this too-cool-for-school app all the more mysterious.
While BOAW operates as a sort of LinkedIn/Facebook hybrid, The Marque is, in essence, a very, very exclusive Meetup. Rather than acting as a place to network, however, The Marque’s founder Andrew Wessels explained in an interview with The Verge that the social platform has a distinct purpose.
“It’s not a networking club," he said. "Basically, our members spent their lives being sold to by people who want something from them. At our events, everyone feels so relaxed, because they’re surrounded by peers.”
Also, unlike BOAW, The Marque has a very clear price tag. It costs £1,000 a year to be a member, though, to its members, that amount is surely a drop in the bucket. It’s invite-only, and while Wessel's interview hints at the finance career path of most of its users, he refers to it more as a “success-based network”.
It appears much more likely to cater to the Goldman Sachs crowd, rather than the Instagram-famous.
For the younger and more technologically-savvy, there’s Rich Kids; an Instagram-esque, photo-sharing app whose high monthly fee of €1,000 lets you post and share photos of all your grand adventures – or your expensive farm-to-table dinner.
Their business model is, admittedly, a bit strange: the app is technically free and open to the public, but users must shell out for the steep monthly fee to be able to post their own photos. It is, according to co-founder Juraj Ivan, a place where users can literally buy social media fame and avoid the pitfalls of the Instagram follow-for-follow circus.
“Buying fake followers and spamming others won't make you famous, but [it will make you] annoying,” Ivan told The Verge. “Rich Kids gives you the option to buy yourself a place on the spotlight.”
While its membership is apparently still in “five digits” territory, Rich Kids users seem somewhat satisfied with the technical privacy the high price tag affords them, which just goes to show that if you slap a quadruple-digit price tag on anything, it will make people feel cool.
While the above social networks offer forms of exclusivity based primarily around financial and/or career status, The League is something else entirely.
Similarly to Raya, The League involves a review process prior to admission, but whereas Raya’s entrance criteria is based on your status as an “influencer”, The League’s vetting process involves being put on a waitlist that's definitely not at all elitist (ahem) while they assess how ambitious and worthy you are.
Apparently, The League is on the lookout for people who they believe their other users – all based in large American cities like New York, San Francisco, DC, and Chicago – will like, and aims to narrow and curate users’ prospective dating pools accordingly.
One woman’s description of The League’s intense rules and her resultant dates makes it seem exactly how one would expect: like a very cool and exclusive singles bar for brilliant, attractive people with a surprisingly discerning bouncer.
These apps are, for better or worse, selling what most of the large social networks simply cannot provide: a sense of luxury, exclusivity and superiority over those less fortunate who weren’t able to make it into their hallowed digital halls.
They certainly seem interesting, if expensive and/or exclusive apps are your thing. For the rest of us, Tinder and Instagram will have to do.
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Next up, read about how selfies are killing us.