Infographic: New Technology Will Slay us All And Bring Down Western Civilization

Former MPAA BadForYou-techno-panic-timelinehead Jack Valenti may be famous for predicting that the VCR would kill the movie industry, but he’s not the first to look at new tech and cry that the sky is falling. I doubt that he is even the 21st to make that claim, though to be fair some of the doom and gloom predictions have come true.

The following infographic details some of the more outlandish claims made over the past 500 years, including photography killing off painting, recorded music leading to the demise of live performances, and newspapers and the telegraph leading to nervous disorders as people are exposed to “the sorrows of individuals everywhere”.

Okay, that last one has actually happened*, but it is the rare exception.


The above chart is missing a few of my favorites. Railroads, for example, were likened to the fire and brimstone of Hell. Standardized time was also vociferously protested, with some going so far as to smash their watches in protest.

But the infographic does include the fear-mongering that radio would make people stop thinking. It rather puts the whole “the internet is making people stupid” argument into perspective, doesn’t it?

* Example: If you’re convinced that a moment’s inattention will result in the worst possible outcome, or that we live in more dangerous times then 30 years ago then you have one of the nervous disorders that Dr Beard predicted in 1881. (The crime stats show that you are wrong.)

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. George30 December, 2013

    I’m still firmly of the opinion that photographs steal your soul.

  2. Jon Jermey30 December, 2013

    Well, that WOULD explain the Kardashians.

  3. puzzled30 December, 2013

    Missing: Infographics will be the death of education.

    1. Nate Hoffelder30 December, 2013

      True. Also the death of journalism.

  4. Destination Infinity31 December, 2013

    Well, eBooks do kill printed books.

  5. fahirsch31 December, 2013

    Notably the book is not available as an ebook (At any rate not Amazon)

  6. […] dal peso di quello che non funziona, ci aiuta a vedere oltre. Ma nel suo cuore quella di Bratton è l’ennesima manifestazione di un istinto vecchio come il mondo, del vecchio che ha paura del nuovo e, non capendo i connotati del cambiamento, pensa che sia un […]

  7. […] a new technology is first made available, someone somewhere is going to point out that many perils and pitfalls. In the past radio, newspapers, and even the printing press has been viewed with alarm, and in this […]

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