“The fun they had” is a science-fiction short story written in 1951 by Isaac Asimov. The text has its focal points on the human behavior as a response to the development of technology – human dependency of technology and how it has become a necessity in order to live a normal life. The text expresses, how the progression of technology have lead to the closed and therefore more “efficient” school system that Margie is a part of.
As she reads the “real” book, which Tommy found, she realizes how different and way more appealing the system was in the past, which brings up the discussion of whether a technologically highly developed society is a good or bad thing. If it will strengthen or weaken the human’s intellectual level as well as social bonds; whether humans will be replaced by electronic devices. It also leaves us a message to appreciate our current school system and society.
The story is told from the perspective of an omniscient third person narrator and takes place May 17th, 2157, in what is assumed to be the home as well as school of the main character, Margie. Margie is an eleven year old girl who lives with her older brother on thirteen and their mother, whose name and age is kept anonymous. She is both a narrow sighted, proud and curious girl which we can see at (P. 2 l. 61): “… Margie was hurt. Well, I don’t know what kind of school they all had that time ago. ” The fact the she gets hurt reveals that she does not like losing. She likes being in control, which is why she in the start of the story sticks to the belief that nothing possibly could surpass the society, she lives in. As the story unfolds her point of view, on what a good school system is, changes significantly. In the start, she seems to be blinded by the idea that a the system she knows is the only right system.
Here she can feel safe. An example of this is (p. 3 l. 74): “I wouldn’t want a strange man in my house to teach me. ” She instantly rejects any good thoughts about an arrangement where a man could work as a teacher, but as she reads more of the book, alongside listening to Tommy’s explanations, she seemingly gets more and more interested. She then realizes and reflects upon, how fed up she is with the current system. How she actually despises it in many ways.
It ends up with her having a feeling, that the old fashioned, “under-developed” school might have worked better. That you could actually meet people, instead of getting private tuition from a machine you don’t even have a specific relation to. Margie’s reflections upon, whether the old or new system is the best, also brings up the question, if the evolution of technology’s impact on the life of an average human would actually lead to isolation and in the end loneliness.
If we are decreasingly dependant on having relations with other people or interacting with anyone, but our family, at all, then it would lead to isolation, which is the case in this story. This is seen in the science-fiction short story “The Veldt”, written by Ray Bradbury, as well, where the two kids isolates themselves from their parents, since the parents have become nothing but an obstacle for their opportunity of a perfect life, due to the “Happylife Home” which gives them anything they wish for.
If the relation and bond between people will become severed and replaced by artificial intelligence, then there truly is no reason to associate with other people. This will eventually lead to a superficial society build up on selfish decisions which in the end will cause loneliness and despair. So a highly developed civilization is not necessarily better than the one we live in today. When we reach the stage, where machines and artificial intelligence will be able to replace human jobs and occupations, we have gone too far.
When there is no need for human relations, we become completely independent of each other and will be left alone. We will be stuck in a void with nowhere to go, since no one are in need of us. We can get impoverished by technologic evolution, if we don’t manage to retain our desire for the perfect lives. It means that advancing technologically can be great, but that we have to appreciate what we hav in order to live a joyful life. If we keep striving for utopia we will only end up looking back at “the fun they had”.