An excellent explanation of this hadith was given by Muhammad Asad in his book "The Road to Mecca". I am reproducing it here, in Asad's own words. You may find this explanation useful when faced with a zealous Muslim who insists on taking the story literally, completely missing its figurative meaning, "the parable of modern material civilization" [matter = earth].
Muhammad Asad speaking to an Arab sheikh:
"Dajjal is one-eyed: that is, it looks upon only one side of life - material progress - and is unaware of its spiritual side. With the help of its technical marvels it enables man to see and hear far beyond his natural ability, and to cover endless distances at an inconceivable speed. Its scientific knowledge causes 'rain to fall and plants to grow' and uncovers unsuspected treasures from beneath the ground. Its medicine brings life to those who seem to have been doomed to death, while its wars and scientific horrors destroy life. And its material advancement is so powerful and so glittering that the weak in faith are coming to believe that it is a godhead in its own right. But those who have remained conscious of their Creator clearly recognise that to worship the Dajjal means to deny God."
The sheikh replied to Muhammad Asad, excitedly striking his knee:
"Thou art right, O Muhammad, thou art right! It has never occurred to me to look upon the Dajjal prophecy in this light. But thou art right! Instead of realising that man's advancement and the progress of science is a bounty from our Lord, more and more people in their folly are beginning to think that it is an end in itself and fit to be worshipped."