Narrative Futures is a series of different future scenarios created to spark inspiration on how we can shape the digital future in a collaborative, sustainable and equal way. We set out to break with current narratives that are introduced by Big Tech. Our goal is to reclaim digital infrastructure in the public interest – and start a conversation about how get there. Each starts with a potential future (🚀) and the current problem. (📌)

"Introducing: the right to disconnect"

October 3rd, 2040 What was once known as the ‘luxury to disconnect’ has been turned into the right to disconnect. Every citizen is now eligible for 30 days of annual disconnect. During this time app trackers and smart devices are disabled. Every internet connected device needs a function that – with just one click – allows users to block all data sharing functionalities. The right to disconnect is the result of year-long advocacy work of civil society organizations and foundations working on health and social equity issues. Their campaign slogan: “Radio silence – fertilizer for your brain.” Core message of their campaign is that in order to thrive in a world of ubiquitous connectivity, people need to be able to disconnect in order to live free and healthy lives.
2020: Disconnecting from online services, platforms and tools is a luxury many can’t afford. They need to keep up with job offers, messages from bosses, demands by public authorities or follow threats issued against them online. Disconnecting gradually, for example by switching from workday to weekend usage patterns, is almost impossible. Whether and how to disconnect depends on the knowledge and privilege of individuals. They have to bear the consequences of not being available, even for a short time, in a society where everyone is online as a rule.


  • Digital technology has blurred the lines between public and private, between work and free time. The onus of navigating these lines lies with the individual.
  • Most digital infrastructure that connects, tracks and surveils users is owned by others – even if we switch off our own devices, we are monitored by systems that are owned by others.
  • Employers and public authorities define the terms of how digitally available their dependents have to be.
  • Social pressure to be present online is also pervasive – going dark is unusual or even suspect.

Starting points:

  • How can we design a right to disconnect that isn’t based on individual decisions, meaning that often these individuals are the only ones to bear consequences from this decision? How can this design be built in on an infrastructure level?
  • What gradual stages of disconnecting could there be? How can they be reflected and embedded on an infrastructure level?
  • Leading by example: How do funders practice rules or transparency around availability for their employees and grantees?