It's a science fiction story originally published in 1909, set in a world where people no longer have any face to ace contact. Instead, they sit on their own rooms, under the surface of the Earth as the air above ground is too polluted to breathe, interacting through 'The Machine', seeing each other on video screens, exchanging second and third and tenth hand ideas while they grow fat and worship the Machine as though it were a god.
But eventually, the Machine breaks down. It has the technology to repair itself, but eventually the parts of the Machine that does the repairs breaks, and the people are unable to fix it for themselves. The Machine stops, shuts down completely.
It's frighting to think that that might actually be where we're heading. I mean, here I am sitting on my arse, in my room, interacting with th world through my laptop. We're not quite there yet, but it's amazing to think that someone writing over a hundred years ago, before computers, before the internet, could come up with these ideas. I wonder if he had any idea how accurate he was.
The Machine Stops is out of copyright and can be read online here if anyone is interested.