This is a very interesting essay. I certainly agree much of our web experiences are toxic or least a waste of time. And we need to figure out a way to help the internet to become a more positive force in our lives.

Yet the solution you present here seems far worse than our current reality.

Creating “sophisticated firewalls that separate the internal networks from the global web, a digital shield against the informational wasteland beyond” is essentially what is happening now in some authoritarian counties.

During popular uprisings cutting off access to the web completely is seen as a means to reestablish control.

On a day to day basis it’s also a good way to shield the local population from outside influences that might prompt them to question their current situation and leaders. China among others has made great strides in limiting access to outside influences and transforming the internet into a tool for monitoring and social control. What’s your “social credit” rating?

Today everyone -- including many among the overwhelming majority of the population who never use it -- talk about what a cesspool Twitter is. Every one of them has make a personal decision about whether they use it or not.

As a result Twitter has a pretty small and declining user base compared to the other platforms. All the big social media platforms are in decline as young people in particular flee to more relevant and friendly sites.

No Faraday shields needed.

This kind of personal decision making doesn’t seem to play a role in so many future utopias.

Much like the one envisioned in this essay, someone -- a future Ayatollah -- would decide that access to the outside web is bad for public morals. Authoritarianism is always it seems a matter of public good and imposing limits on freedom and punishing those who don’t agree are hallmarks of the authoritarian state. Even the most progressive people become little fascists when presented with the chance to ban something they don’t like.

So I can easily imagine a future in which the “radio quiet zone” of Green Bank has extended its reach throughout the country. Everywhere it’s “against the law to try and use a cellphone to send a tweet, or watch an online video.”

You could also see a surging need for an army of “radio policeman" like those in Green Bank to ensure no one is polluting themselves or others with Twitter.

By the way, one reason people move to Green Bank is because they believe themselves to be suffering from “electromagnetic hypersensitivity.” Some already talk about how toxic the internet has become and it use could be seen as a public health issue I suppose -- like smoking.

Somehow that doesn’t sound like the kind of utopia in which personal freedom plays much of a role. And if it doesn’t then someone must swoop down from a great height and make decisions for everyone else. Is that a utopia?

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Interesting. So are you saying we keep the internet, but effectively eliminate Twitter (and the bad web) in favor of Substack (and the good web)?

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