In E. M. Forster’s short story, ‘The Machine Stops’, he talks about ‘The Machine’, which is worshipped by the majority of people in the world of the book. In the story, the world's population is encased in a machine, and each person has an object similar to an iPad, with a Skype-like function - ‘there were buttons and switches everywhere […] there was the button that produced literature. And there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends’. Recently, I accidentally spilt a glass of water over my beloved 2-year-old laptop. Almost immediately, the screen went blank and it hasn’t worked since. I phoned my mum in tears, telling her what had happened. It felt like I had lost a limb! I began to panic, knowing that, for a few weeks (until I can get a replacement) I will have to live without easy, quick access to Facebook, email, Skype, YouTube… And then it hit me; technology is taking over my life! Not a day goes by without me using the internet for at least two hours a day, be it for work, or fun, or online shopping, studying, or contacting my friends and family. In Forster’s story, people become obsessed with their ‘Book of the Machine’. When I first read the story six months ago, I found it a little scary because it does reflect our lives today, to some extent. We are all attached to a ‘machine’, be it a mobile phone, a computer or laptop, an ipad, or an iPod or an MP3 player… When I realised that Forster had written his story in 1909, I was frightened – how did he manage to predict the future so accurately? Although we are not yet as obsessed as the characters in the story, it is believable that one day we may be! Something else that has surprised me recently is using a pen and paper for writing – I’ve become so used to typing that writing has become a little strange! I used to love writing, particularly letters, but also schoolwork - anything really! But in the last couple of years, I have become used to typing quick messages to my friends and family, and I have word processed all of my university work. My handwriting, once lovely and easy to read, has become a rushed scribble. Surely technology is supposed to make our lives easier, not rushed?! Realising this, I’ve decided that a few weeks without a laptop will be good for me! I am now using my mobile phone less, and instead I’ve written letters to my family and friends, taking time to really think about what I am saying to them. I’m sure that once I have a replacement computer, I will fall back into my bad habits – but for now, it is a refreshing change!!
Do you think technology is taking over? Do you use your laptop or mobile phone a lot? How much time do you spend online?