You can't just tell the internet to mind its own business. It is its business. You can't just tell the computer to quit working behind your back. Behind your back is where it belongs. You can't just fire the hired help; you'd just have to hire more, and why would it be any easier to trust? Why trust your own mind, for that matter. Our computers may as well be part of our minds when they control what we choose and what we see, where we speak and who hears our words.

You weigh the options. You hold close the spy stories of youth. DS9 reruns in the background, a question won't escape from your mind. Why has what's unbelievable about the future changed so much? The thin padds in their hands used to be where my eyes fell. How could data be thinner than even a computer screen? Now, it's the lack of cameras. What do they mean, they have no video surveillance of anything whatsoever? And simultaneously no sense of privacy.

Our fiction is doing us a dreadful disservice. The worlds we need to consider, fear, or dream of, are absent. Our pain represents itself under layer after layer. You know a time is free when its fears are presented without the conceit of fantasy. We're at loss for characters to which we could assign ourselves. The roles are unspoken, the stories unwritten. We're free, after a fashion? Free of context. But there is so much context out there, just under the surface. Our access now is enormous and valuable.

We could superficially lament the corporations and their consequences for the network. Or we could admit that this has gone far beyond them. When you walk into the world of dream, the first thing they tell you is to wait at the bridge for a guide. Wait for a guide. Don't go it alone. Stay on the path. They don't tell you what's out there. Out there. is a swamp of nightmares. Our internet is the land of dream. Isn't like the land of dream, no; it is the land of dream. These days, we are nearly all in the swamp of nightmare. And like those who fall there in their sleep, we mostly don't know it.

But the answer isn't to wake up. If you didn't wait for a guide or stay on the path, you know the answer.