If I want a slice of pizza, I don't expect it to be free. In fact, if you try to offer me a slice of free pizza, I'd suspect there's something wrong with it.
And ever since my kids can understand me, I've taught them to be careful of free stuff. Nothing is free!* Don't take any free candies from strangers!
But on the internet, we expect things to be free. We're more than happy when Big Corporations offer us free software. Want to upload thousands of photos and videos to share with your family, all for the price of nothing? Come on in! While you're at it, can I offer you free email, too?
Software costs money. The software makers (who, like most people, have to make a living) will have to make money somehow. So, Facebook and Google make money selling ads, and occasionally they'll sell some of our data. They don't have our best interests at heart, because we're not their customers. (Their customers are the ad buyers, and that's whom they serve.)
Let's say a software maker doesn't want to cover up their product with ads or do anything shady (good for them!). The most common thing that will happen is that after some point, they will either sell that software (to finally recuperate the costs) or abandon it––either shut it down or let it go to rot. Either case, you lose.
I think it's pretty simple. If you want a slice of pizza, pay for it. If you want journalism to survive, do your part and pay for the newspaper. If you find a software useful and want it to stick around, take your credit card out and pay for it!
* Nothing is free except for parents' love, of course. But even that is sometimes conditional. 😅