THE BLOG
02/17/2014 01:19 pm ET | Updated Apr 19, 2014

Who Gets the Rewards for Your Membership?

What is the price of membership?

How much are you willing to pay; commit: sacrifice; pledge; leverage; or give up to participate with a select group that by definition or at least by connotation are exclusive....in other words membership.

American Express knows about membership and it "has its rewards"...your initiation is your credit rating and then you pay your way in -- Green; Gold: Platinum; Black -- each a little more exclusive -- each a little more costly -- each returning more in perceived prestige and even in actual bonus...

Topically...you could be an Olympic medal winner, thus entering the rarefied atmosphere that seems to last to forever but comes only after years of great commitment and sacrifice. This is truly an exclusive gathering -- you either win or you don't -- you have a medal or not -- and while the application phase can be a full childhood of toil the entry fee is quick and simple. In or out. Membership is closed to all but the winners.

Sports and celebrity fans all have their clubs -- not very exclusive -- but certainly very passionate. Membership is fairly simple -- near fanatic love for the subject in question. All you need to do is pledge your loyalty and you are accepted.

The Traditional Gentlemen's Clubs of British fame -- are rarified exclusive. Money can't get you in -- only breeding can -- having the right pedigree -- call this the leverage option -- and discretion...total discretion is understood.

Today we have as many clubs as we have retail and service providers. Clubs for travelers; coffee drinkers; discount buyers; cupcake lovers; language lovers; food fanatics; you name it you can find it and join it. Price of entry? Your email and in a growing trend your Facebook or Google Plus log in...imagine that -- sign into your exclusive club with your Facebook...HMMMM or your Google Plus...Double HMMMM

Let's take a look at Google+ -- truth is it is exclusive -- sort of -- not many people use it but in fact according to The New York Times -- "After YouTube began requiring a membership (in Google Plus) to comment on YouTube videos, a founder of YouTube, Jawed Karim, deleted much of his account. And YouTube's most popular video creator, who goes by the username PewDiePie, temporarily shut off comments on his videos."

The bottom line is that Plus is the connector between all of your Google activities and more and more Google is forcing us towards Plus if we want to use its other products. And companies are being forced towards Plus with advertising incentives (read carefully...not very targeted) and the need to stay high in search rankings.

And you know the why of it all -- The Holy Grail -- data...about you...about your motivations...about your desires...all to be sold to advertisers so that they can sell you stuff more efficiently...

Clearly many people are concerned...Regulators are starting to poke around...comparisons are being made to other monopolies that have been limited...and some people are pushing back like those who have opted out.

So why do we allow it? Why do we join a club we aren't sure we really want to be in -- in fact based on public sentiment around privacy and intrusion I believe I'm on safe ground when I generalize that I'm ready to bet if we really thought about it -- most of us would not want to be in it.

Nate Elliott, and analyst at Forrester gave the sad but true answer to The New York Times:

"If people want to use your platform enough" Mr. Elliott said, "you can get away with quite a lot."

So there you are...there you have it...as for me...my sentiment is one best expressed by one of my most favorite philosophers of the 20th Century...Listen:

"Please accept my resignation. I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member." Groucho Marx


Membership does have its rewards, but not when they are taken and owned by the club....

What do you think?