Do you have solid evidence that the riches buy luxury goods mainly for social status? Intuitively, I believe most of them just cannot resist the excitements coming from the luxury goods, in a way exactly like how we cannot resist online gaming, movies, TV, sex, clubbing and snacks - things that make us feel good. Luxury goods are attractive not only because of being the representation of social status. Instead, a dominating cause should be the enjoyable experience and aesthetic fulfillment they provide.
The sports car fans who want to feel a variety of thrills of high speed steering, given excessive money, would not be able to resist buying a variety of customized sports cars.
The enthusiastic foodies are probably curious about the taste of the most delicious caviar and chocolates. One would not know it until tried it. Hey, it is also very addicting to have a sip of wine everyday - all different kinds of wines. They are all delicious.
Fashion? All the brands, of course. Just curious how it would look like if I wear them on. No boundaries.
One can only relax in front of the spectacular night view of California, if and only if he got a penthouse in Beverly Hill. It is is just relaxing, why not? One can only have a Air-conditioned 10 miles marathon with perfect privacy, if and only if he purchased an indoor marathon field and a racing track.
One can only have sex with his darling in the middle of a lake of a beautiful nature, just like what you see in a Disneyland fantasy, if he got a private island. Otherwise, public nudity.
It is my dream too to have a personal orchestra for some classy music everyday. With those music, hmm, the boy would give the girl a particular sort of surprise with a particular diamond ring. A princess room. In a castle.
A super rich Sci-Fi fan, who is desperate for sci fi imagination, cannot resist to have some cutting edge concept cars, custom furnished skyscrapers looking like the one in "Half Life 3", some armies of robots and some movie productions. The same goes with any other hobbies. It is like a weird relationship with the arts of something or something. Once there is art, there is luxurious niche.
And, I believe almost everyone may got some kind of passion and love in some subjects or hobbies on which one irresistibly invest a lot.
The super riches may never want to show off . They just want to feel themselves better. So how the hack would a virtual social status symbol replace tangible, enjoyable luxury goods? Your article is just a bit biased. Because according to your logic, if I give you a "middle-class virtual symbol" on some sites, would you stop spending money on travelling, going to bar and club and drinking coffees with your friends? You may argue the "luxury" of the riches are not the same as the "comfort" of the middle class. Well, actually these things which seems normal to us are also considered luxury in the eyes of the poor.