We have a teenage Gollum boy in the house. That is to say, we have a teenage boy who lives upstairs. We hardly ever see him. He appears at meal times and hovers like ectoplasm, usually in doorways. He is very grey. If 50 Shades of it wasn’t a sex-romp novel, our teenage person who lives upstairs would be the epitome of 50 shades of grey. His face is grey. His hands are grey. The back of his neck is a shade of grey you wouldn’t believe.
This is because he never sees daylight. Like Gollum. Outdoors is an alien concept for teenage Gollums. Why would they ever need to venture into fresh air? Everything they need is, literally, at their fingertips.
IN my teenage years, I read E.M. Forster’s short story The Machine Stops.
First published in 1909, The Machine Stops paints a chilling vision of the role of technology in people’s lives. It’s one of those stories I’ve never forgotten. In this case, it isn’t the characters I remember; it’s the imagery Forster weaves into the plot and setting. The story is a stark warning against humans placing too much reliance on the machines that serve them.
E.M.Forster has his characters living alone in beehive cell-like conditions. They have video/audio connections and everything is at their fingertips, at the flick of a switch or a push of a button. They have lost their teeth and hair because they don’t need them any more. If you haven’t read it, it’s available for free as a download.
And so, Forster’s remarkable prophecy in 1909, regarding the role of technology in our lives brings me back to our teenage Gollum who lives upstairs in his own cell-like conditions. He hardly moves from the one position, hunched over his ‘precious’, his tapering fingers tapping away in the dark.
He’ll probably never read Forster. It’s so sad . . .