On the internet of the future, nothing appears on your screen without approval. Scavenging Wikipedia, you’ll learn about pizza farms and the insane circumstances surrounding King Edmund II’s death (he died while taking a shit). At one point, you’ll likely tweet about that strange period in 2019 when Pete Buttigieg wore Obama drag during his primary run for president. One night, before turning in for bed, you’ll scroll through Instagram, admiring one acquaintance in particular, deciding to follow their bio link to a private subscription-only page where they offer “premium” content (mostly nudes). In this version of utopia—your very own!—there is only bliss and the occasional curated chaos.
There are no diabolical algorithms suggesting what to stream, who to follow, or where to vacation. There is no nefarious ad tracking going on. Privacy intrusions are essentially nonexistent. There are no public status markers, no heart-emoji icons nudging you into liking something you actually don’t (but liked anyway because your friend posted it and that’s how friendship works on the internet). Everything you read and everyone you follow is, for once, up to you. In this digital Eden, you command full control.
There’s just one catch: It requires a monthly subscription of $5. In fact, most aspects of your harmoniously-constructed Shangri-La will necessitate a subscription. Even you—yes, you—will have a set monthly fee for family members, friends, colleagues, and Twitter randos to subscribe to all your top-tier content. This is the age of the subscription ouroboros, a constantly renewing cycle of collective (and sometimes shameless) self-sponsorship where everyone can stay in their own loop forever.