At the end of the nineties, the early days of the internet it was, until some point at least theoretically possible to read all of it. Then, just all of the personally interesting content. Today, it's hard to get through just the comments for whatever new content I'm following.
Nothing is more frustrating in the internet than finding an interesting article, starting to read it, get hooked and then hit the paywall. It was all just a teaser. Alternatives aren't much better, but ads and such are still tolerable as long as they are not too intrusive.
I understand people need to get paid. To write, edit and publish all those texts. Websites need to be created to display them. And those in turn need to be hosted somewhere.