There’s a website that I would visit regularly. The content of the site focused on a topic that I am interested in and I would read through the forum discussions, immersing myself in the debates and I considered participating. I’m not usually the most outgoing person so I was working my way up to it. I made it my New Year’s resolution. It was a shock to find that over the Christmas holidays the website erected a paywall.

I was #%@&%ing angry. I couldn’t believe it. A small corner of the internet erupted in reaction and I sought as many responses about the paywall that I could. I suppose what I was looking for was validation of what I was feeling. I mean, there was no hint nor warning, maybe I was angry at the lack of transparency. Or I was angry at the price of admission – I found value in the site but I never participated enough to put a dollar value on it. Maybe I felt the site owner displayed a level of hypocrisy or disparity, when the gander is dealt differently than the goose.

The other possibility is that I’m a whiny crybaby who feels a sense of entitlement that you hear all the old people whine about.

Nonetheless, after the clamor died down, I would visit the site to read the teaser paragraph and then grumble for a good half-hour. Either the teaser was very poor, where I couldn’t believe they expected a payment – or it was the most valuable post that month and I was kicking myself. After six months, I broke down and subscribed. I was cured. I didn’t grumble anymore. Half-hours were saved for more productive uses. It was a huge relief. It wasn’t because I felt that it was worth it… no. It was because I hated feeling excluded.

The website I’m referring to isn’t important to the heart of this post. Regardless of content or price, I would have felt left out. It’s my desire to belong that influenced my reaction to the paywall and it was that same desire that influenced my decision to enroll. It affects what brands I buy, the clothes I wear, and the TV shows that I watch. I don’t see a rational reason for it but life can be irrational… and you can put a price tag on that.