Only Connect

E.M. Forster got to Wall-E's message a long time ago:

As in WALL-E, “The Machine Stops” is set on a future Earth whose surface has been blasted into inhabitability by waste and pollution. Writing when radio was in its infancy, Forster (best known for his novel A Passage to India) imagined an intermediated hypercivilization in which people connect to one another through electronic screensa videoconferencing dystopia unnervingly reminiscent of some of today’s social media. While WALL-E’s human population has escaped into space, in Forster’s tale they have created a vast subterranean civilization. In both stories, however, humanity has grown fat and sessile thanks to automated systems that serve their every need. Whisked from screen to screen in automated chairs, they’re unable to interact with the world without electronic mediation. And in both stories, the systems break down.