This one is for the introverts.
The year is 2050 (give or take); humanity’s gravitation to urban centers reaches its peak. The sheer density of cities tests our limits as “social animals”, and we starve for solitude.
A typical citizen rises at dawn in their trendy micro-apartment: 200 square feet, artfully configured to sleep three, with collapsible furniture and partitions. A crowded train delivers them to work, since the private car vanished during the global fuel crisis. However, our current “Open Collaborative Office” trend has survived. It is simply cheaper to seat colleagues shoulder-to-shoulder, and the lowered productivity of exasperated workers is balanced by easier surveillance. The process reverses each evening, as the tide of human stock eddies back into residential streets.
In these conditions, privacy is treasured. As usual, the market provides a solution. Small chambers quietly proliferate within office towers, transit stations, and residential blocks. An unassuming door leads to a soundproof, indestructible room with a single light source. For a fee, desperate citizens have space to relax, meditate, and act out whatever impulse our social brains inhibit. Most people sing, or scream, or bask in silence, tuning out the world and recovering their individuality. Some exploit the space for darker uses. Organized crime was quick to see potential and now controls access to urban tranquility.
As tech companies well know, our private thoughts have value. Marketing firms and governments crave data on our desires, needs, and seditious opinions. Will the corrupt networks monetizing our solitude cave to their pressure? Will the sovereignty of our inner life hold?