The story The Machine Stops is an amazing story written by E. M. Forster. The story takes place in the far future where Earth has become a barren wasteland. By that time, humans have retreated deep down into the underground, relying on the function of a gigantic apparatus known as Machine for all their needs and survival. Through this text, Forster seems to warn us the danger of over-reliance on technology for it can lead to the downfall of humanity as it can cause the deterioration of human mentally, socially, and physically .
Humans have pride themselves on their creativity, their knowledge, and their daringness to take chances and challenge the unknown. It is admirable that the characters of the story is able to create the omnipotent Machine, but it is this same Machine that murdered their inspirational mind and their adventurous soul. Humans no longer centralize their wits on discovery and creativity, for they thought the Machine is perfect; instead, they “concentrate [themselves] upon problems that she [is] certain of solving.” All the while that humans thought they are advancing, they do not realize that they are building towering walls around their minds and restricting themselves to the known. The goal is to make progress, not perfection, for things end or are lost the moment that something is perfected or completed.
Not only does the Machine caused limitations to humans mentally, it also cause physical isolation between people. The Machine has instruction manual for everything. People no longer leave their rooms for anything for everything is provided; as a result, face-to-face social activities are dying. Even the interactions between parents and children is limited for “‘[p]arents, duties of,’ said the book of the Machine, ‘ cease at the moment of birth.” The relationship between the mother, Vashti, and her son, Kuno, is an example. Despite the plate that allows them to communicate, Vashti still feels lonely in her room. Humans are social creatures and a part of what we do is physically interacting with others. Physical interactions are needed to deepen or solidify the bonds that exist between us. Furthermore, it is also a form of comfort, for we know that their is someone that is within reachable distance; otherwise, no matter how bright or how colorful the screen is, people are still alone and lonely, for in the end, it is still one person in the room.
Physical health not only relies on health food, but also exercise. The Machine provides the humans with everything that they will need, from sleep, to food, to communication, and everything else in between. This cause the humans to be slothful and and inactive; as a result, the human body is deteriorating due to the long periods of unused. In the story, people is not able to hold a book, walk, or hold out their hands for a long period of time. The “muscles…had failed [them].” Furthermore, the situation is made worse when the more physically fit children are killed and only the genes of the deteriorated are passed on. As this continues, humans will no be no more than “swaddled lump of flesh[es],” useless and unfit for survival without the existence of the Machine.
Over-reliance on technology eventually lead to the downfall of the characters in Forster’s book, and it may be ours too if we do not heed its warning. Machine exist to better service humans and not to limit us. It is okay to rely on technology for support, but people must remember that the first and foremost is us; in other words, we are the foundations, and we need to evolve along with the technologies in order to better control it.