Felix Writes: The Machine Stops

DigitalThoughts / The Machine Stops

2010-03-29

What could a short story from 1909 teach us about the modern day? A whole lot, it turns out. The Machine Stops is about a future where people have all the electronic communications they could wish for, but nothing to talk about, for lack of real-world experiences.

(As an aside, the technology imagined by E. M. Forster in 1909 still looks almost current, except it's analog, not digital. Pretty amazing.)

I was postponing writing this, waiting for something interesting to happen to me, and I'd still be postponing but for a friend's forceful request: "BLARG MORE, FELIX!". At first I was at a loss, knowing he was right, and raking my brain for something to blog about. Then it clicked: this is my topic. A cautionary tale, if you like.

As of this writing, I've been out of a job for almost five months. That, right there, means a lot of things I don't do anymore. Simply not going out of the house, and working much less than before, deprived me of life experiences I never knew I was having. Winter and lack of money also meant less travel.

Now, while I do much less than before, I enjoy a lot more human contact, for a lot more time every day. The Internet is unbeatable when it comes to that. But talking to people also eats into time that could go into actually doing stuff. It used to be that finding people with the same hobbies as myself was difficult; now I spend more hours every day talking to them than, you know, practicing said hobbies. Which in turn means fewer new things to talk about.

(Resuming after several days.)

I'm working on a game again. Will announce it in a few days; hopefully it will enjoy a better fate than my previous attempt. Ironically, focusing on it made me completely forget about this article for a while. What's worse, not having what to write about, not having whom to tell about it, or lacking the time to write in the first place?