Fiction and human achievement

 

For almost 200,000 years, humans were indistinguishable from animals. 

For 5,000 years, we had only achieved the advancements of agriculture and prostitution.  Nothing to be sneezed at for sure, but certainly not the pinnacle of potential.

In 100 years, we went from farming to the Industrial Revolution.  There were a lot of reasons, but note the sudden easy availability of fiction.  I know, I know, correlation doesn’t equal causation, but I can’t help but wonder how much the insurgence of fiction, and how it influenced the play of children, impacted the next generation and the ideas they worked from.  Factories? Space travel?  Computing?

Fast forward to Asimov, Clarke, and the other Science Fiction writers of the 50s.  They pointed our eyes to the stars and our minds to the unimaginable.  Is it a surprise that the generation that grew up reading their books and reenacting it in their play gave us the fathers of the Internet?

Please don’t dismiss child’s play as a waste of time.  Please don’t assume that the introduction of fictional universes into a children’s playtime is an “overdose of media.”  You don’t know what the availability of universes is doing for our children’s fertile minds.  Wouldn’t you rather let them run with it and see what becomes of it, rather than shut it down, afraid of the future it might bring?

Comments (1) -

mgroves
9/17/2010 7:05:11 PM #

I don't think your correlation is that much of a reach.  With the advent of better farming technology, you no longer need as many people toiling away in the fields just to survive, which frees them up to pursue other formerly frivolous interests like fiction, performing, music, etc.  Certainly fiction wasn't -invented- in the industrial revolution, but I think a good argument could be made for it being -heavily- expanded.

That being said, I certainly don't mind my kids drawing on fictional settings, as long as they aren't dumbed-down, stupid ones.

Comments are closed

Bill Sempf

Husband. Father. Pentester. Secure software composer. Brewer. Lockpicker. Ninja. Insurrectionist. Lumberjack. All words that have been used to describe me recently. I help people write more secure software.

PageList

profile for Bill Sempf on Stack Exchange, a network of free, community-driven Q&A sites

MonthList