From fax machines bringing pictures to life to train travel tearing our bodies apart, we count ten ridiculous fears people had about new technology!
10 – Writing,
- It may seem quaint – even primitive – today but the act of writing things down was once a huge cause for concern for people.
- Famous Greek philosopher Socrates believed that quills and ink, and the development of the written language, was going to turn people into lazy slobs. He believed that recording and referring to ideas would encourage forgetfulness and prevent people from attaining true wisdom.
- I’d sure hate to think what he’d make of smart phones, GPS or Wikipedia…
9 – Street Lights,
- Before street lights, night time plunged the world into total darkness. Thieves, perverts and murderers roamed freely and travel plans – or, y’know, doing anything productive – had to wait until daylight. The idea to install gas lamps in city streets was revolutionary. At last people could leave their homes without carrying flaming torches!
- Unfortunately, authority figures opposed the idea. Many thought staying up after the sun went down would cause everyone to catch colds, creating a serious health crisis. The Catholic Church believed staying up at night was an act of defiance against God, who obviously wanted them to sleep. I mean, don’t even get me started on all those damn Devil-worshipping nocturnal animals…
- And then there was Pope Gregory XVI, who actually banned gas lighting because he believed visibility at night would encourage rebellion against the church.
8 – Television,
- Our biggest entertainment medium television was once prophesised to bring about the fall of society.
- The poor old idiot box has been accused of destroying a diverse range of things like radio, reading habits, conversation and family dynamics. Many believe it damages eyesight and it’s been the go-to scapegoat for influencing unhinged criminals.
- According to critics, this little box has single-handedly ruined American culture vulture and warped all our minds. Ah, the power of TV.
7 – Fax Machines,
- Fax machines are a relic of the Nineties, and to some people that’s exactly where they belong.
- At the time, the technology was strange and confusing, which is probably many feared fax machines had some supernatural ability to make things disappear!
- What’s more disturbing is that many people genuinely believed that if you faxed a picture of something it would become real on the other end. I wonder how many idiots faxed pictures of sharks to their enemies…
6 – Bound Books,
- Like the old grump Socrates, many of history’s ‘cultural elite’ tried to ban printed books to prevent reading from reaching the masses. They believed printing presses couldn’t replicate the sacred art of handwriting and that it was dangerous to try. One philosopher in 1680 even said “the horrible mass of books that keeps growing might lead to a fall back into barbarism.” This is serious! So stop mass producing new books, guys.
- Years later, an influential preacher said that printing presses were to blame for people reading ‘dangerous’ and ‘inferior’ books when they should’ve been reading Homer or Virgil. Even Tolstoy got in on the hate, saying that the distribution of printed books was the “most powerful of ignorance’s weapons”.
- Pretty funny because nowadays printed books are considered sacred artefacts while e-reader devices are the Devil. Maybe one day we’ll all be like “These holographic books are ruining reading! Keep it retro, guys. Use Kindle!”