A Snippet of History: Technology, Excitement, and Fear

As the train approached, everyone in the room freaked out. Some ran out of the building.

I should clarify: a train wasn’t actually there. It was in a movie. Specifically, a short silent film called L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat (Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat [Station]).

L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat

But people freaked out because it was the 19th century, film was new, and the crowd couldn’t help but feel awe (and terror) at the new technology 

That story still gets passed on today, a century later, even though historical scholars believe it is somewhat bogus folklore. It’s still noteworthy to me because it reflects one narrative about humankind’s struggle with technology — a narrative where we’re excited and curious about tech, but also sometimes fearful.

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