@Ishmael: "all you have to do is wake up & realize you don't need them & never did"
Same could be said about lot of things. Cars, meat, electricity, shower and shaving to name a few.
I'd even refer to older technologies like being able to read or write. Not really necessary, yes?
The service providers mentioned above are modern-day equivalent of printing press, or older manual copying of books by (often religious) scholars.
All these technologies contain and have contained an element of information control, or propaganda if you will. Even more so in the past, I argue. We have come a long way from that.
Indeed. Let's separate two questions. Hopping the wall and protecting privacy on the Internet. The first is easily accomplished but the second is enormously complicated and perhaps impossible. We know there are many companies out there that harvest your data and sell it. Whether VPN providers are among them we/I don't know. But if your primary objective is access then you're getting that with a VPN and you're no worse off regarding privacy.
Being tech savvy and minding about your privacy simply means being educated these days. In a couple of years, when e.g. blockchains will be a common thing, we will think back of this time as the Middle-ages of the Internet.
(Keep in mind that a VPS is not a very wise choice here, because that unique IP will sooner or later be connected to you. Perhaps changing it every year would do the trick, but there are still handy options when using an advanced common software, like split tunnelling and ad blocking, that you don't get with a VPS)
Sorry, I don't see how it is ridiculous to spend some time reading about how to configure your own VPS, setting up a backup server and VPN.
In terms of monopolies, Google is a threat to the world way more than the CCP is to China!
Well sure, if you're interested enough go ahead. For myself, I take the view that you don't have to be a television engineer to watch Netflix. Neither do you have to be a computer expert to find interesting stuff on the Internet or write a document using Word or whatever. Sure, privacy is a concern as well as access but for most people they will end up relying on experts for advice. As for blockchain, if the technology becomes ubiquitous as some predict, most people will use it without understanding how it works. Just like they use ATMs today, or cell phones for that matter. But by all means if you have the expertise or the time and inclination to acquire it, that's fine. You might even make some money out of it.
@cloudtrapezer: I accept your separation of the 2 questions and your point about jumping the damn firewall.
@ricsnap: 'Being techsavvy and minding about privacy = being educated these days' - I'll accept that's part of it, but it worries me a great deal that people more & more imagine that 'being educated' can be REDUCED to tech savviness & minding about privacy, or that accession of information = education or intelligence or wisdom. I know you haven't said that, but I see it as a creeping disease.
VPN for Android and iOS
are free, but many of them are annoying with advertising. ExpressVPN I used and not satisfied at all. I recommend Shadowsocks which is very cheap and very reliable. For Android, iOS is free. Cheers!