The Machine Stops

I have discovered an amazing story. Written by E. M. Forster in 1909, The Machine Stops explores a world in which people are no longer able to cope with unmediated experiences. In the story, people live in small cells underground, with purified air, medical care, food, and communication all available from the vast Machine that cares for most of humanity.

They are unable to breathe the air on the surface of the earth. They regard travel and physical contact with disgust, and are frightened of the stars and sunlight. Mostly, they sit in their rooms and communicate with each other–giving and receiving lectures.

In 1909, Forster was able to write a story which seems like a cautionary tale about the isolating effect of the Internet.

You really ought to go read the story. It’s not long; it shouldn’t take much more than a half hour to read, and it’s quite insightful. Enjoy!

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