The crowded elevator of opinions

We’ve become convinced that speaking is the most important thing we can do.


f dystopian stories serve to warn us of a dangerous future we are in the process of creating, then E. M. Forster’s classic short story “The Machine Stops” belongs on our reading lists. He writes—in 1909!—of a world with internet and video conferencing, in which facts are secondary to our imagining of history.

Most intriguingly, he describes a world in which humanity has essentially become an abstraction of ideas and opinions and humans are nothing more than the vehicles of these opinions. In one conversation, the protagonist’s friend calls and asks, “Do you have any ideas today?” and when she doesn’t, the friend hangs up. Because if you don’t have an opinion right now, then what’s the point?