Mountains are used in metaphor so regularly that, as a rock climber, whenever I hear it happen I can taste the bile in my throat accumulating. So often a word can become tainted by overuse and lack of creativity, that sometimes I find myself reading just to escape the monotony of everyday language. In fact, now that I think about it, that's one of the main reasons I read fiction. Reading a book over a blog post (like this one) is like going to a premiere movie production rather than staying home to watch recommended videos on YouTube. Sure, some videos are good, great even, but they can never have the immersive quality of a movie in its native context (a theatre).
My high high school English teacher made us do push-ups (she was British and likely post-military) when we used conjugations or otherwise inappropriate vernacular in class, and I didn't (give me ten!) really understand the depth of her pain back then. This is how we talk now, get over it. I realize now why she was aching over my generation's stranglehold on proper English -she basically predicted Twitter. This was just before the age of cellphones but most homes had at least one computer and the Internet was definitely a thing. Who knows if high school English teachers of yore had to worry about the future of our promiscuous language, but she certainly did.
Non-fictional content, aka information, has come to monopolize our consumption. And aside from the effort that goes into clever headlines, the use of imagery and wordplay (ie: creative command of language) is typically the first to go when writing in this context, and for good reason. Facts should be clearly and concisely attributed to get a point across directly.
We are driven to learn about new places, new ideas, new innovations, and we can do so whenever we like. So then, how can one not feel a tinge of guilt picking up some piece of superfluous fiction when we can read about the true prophesy of superintelligence? How can we choose between reading about the astounding physiological discoveries in ultra-athletes and the fictional story of a man stranded on Mars?
Our brains crave fact, but our senses desire art and fantasy. We can't forget about that. As we become a population of memory machines, I believe it will be increasingly important to remind ourselves that the aesthetics of fiction can help us remain human.
But in truth, we can't have one without the other. How many references to future technologies have been made in science fiction? Would we even have the idea of superintelligence if not for Jules Verne? And how often does the deep imaginary world of a great novel remind you that anything is possible? Sure, people like Elon Musk can blow our minds with fantastical ideas and solutions, but if the rest of us can't imagine a future for ourselves, what good are we to it?