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February 06, 2006

The Machine Stops

'Here I am. I have had the most terrible journey and greatly retarded the development of my soul. It is not worth it, Kuno, it is not worth it. My time is too precious. The sunlight almost touched me, and I have met with the rudest people. I can only stop a few minutes. Say what you want to say, and then I must return.' This reminds me somewhat of where we could be headed if we keep relying on technology and not so much on developing our own skills and ideas and heaven forbid, waste time doing so. From cell-phones and e-mail, to fast-food and cosmetic surgeries, we've become lazy, fat, and sometimes even less intelligent than we were before there was even a car or typewriter. I have to say I become frustrated that all my assignments are on-line. What's the point of paying such a high tuition and waste gas to attend college when all of the assignments are on the Internet anyway? I might as well go to cyberschool and stay home. I was so excited initially to go to school and now nothing can be accomplished without the click of a button or staying on the Internet for hours, I'm beginning to feel like apart of the machine. Anyhow, I enjoyed this because it really made me think and made me realize that if we don't seek our own intellectual pursuits and get out and enjoy life through experience (and not some on-line discussion that takes days to get going anyway) we lesson our chances of becoming everything we fear in futuristic books like this and 1984. "We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. The Machine develops - but not on our lies. The Machine proceeds - but not to our goal." That's pretty much how I feel about technology, call me old-school, but unless it's meant to help us learn without making us completely machine dependent, I think we'll just lose intelligence.

Posted by ErinWaite at February 6, 2006 01:23 PM


I like teaching this story because it reminds me to critique the technology that takes up so much of our lives. I taught my first online-only course in January, and while I enjoyed it I must say that I missed the adrenaline rush that one gets during a really good class discussion. If technology becomes advanced enough, and there were a way that we could broadcast images of audience members to that we can read each other's silent body language, then perhaps that would mimic much of the group dynamic that right now we can only get when we're all in the same place. But in a more basic sense, if the machine (any machine -- the TV, the computer, or the whole Wal-Mart system) satisfies all our needs and removes all discomfort, what will motivate us grow?

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at February 6, 2006 01:59 PM

I agree. I feel yes, society is changing into a more technological atmosphere. The difference that I feel is that we have the choice to let ourselves be tied down by this, or to make the best of it and still be apart of how we feel life should be. I have a friend who doesn't own a computer, he's an older gentleman but you wouldn't know it to look at him. He could choose to feel lost in an age of the internet. He could choose to learn how to use this technology. Right now he is the happies man on the earth, he found himseld in his beliefs and he loves his family. To me, nothing can ever take this away, and to him, technology isn't such a big deal. To him, the most important things aren't e-mailing all of his friends and buying things from e-bay. For him life has different values, so I think that it's all what you do with it, it's all how we interpret it.

Posted by: Andy Lonigro at February 7, 2006 09:02 AM

What do you call a person who gets his/her job done without leaving the house?

A blogger. (pause for laughter)

Just as we use our techonolgy to make us dumber, we help ourselves out in making things more faster. That is the thing about Americans, they want everything right now. It is the same reasin why we are in a social and intellectual decline. No saying that technological advances is a bad thing. But think about why we need to watch videos on our cell phones. You think Pennsylvanians can't drive now. This is great insight, Erin.

Posted by: KevinHinton at February 7, 2006 08:11 PM

Thanks for your insight,Andy. Whenever I talk to my grandparents and even my parents, I'm so amazed at all of the places they've been, the famous people they met, and all the stories they remember about those things. They are some of the happiest people I know. My mother doesn't even know how to turn on the computer and we still don't have the internet at home. It definitely makes my life experiences more precious and I'm grateful to be lacking the interest in Survivor and E-bay. Kevin, people actually had one of those little dvd players when they were eating at a restaurant. What's the point of going out to eat with friends if you're not even going to look at eachother? Dr. Jerz, I hate Wal-mart, but damn it, I'm slave to it like everyone else. So what if the employees have to do special cheers into a bullhorn? :)

Posted by: Erin at February 8, 2006 11:10 AM

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