Friday, March 20, 2009

Future Shock

I woke up to NPR this morning with the same disoriented, teeth-grinding feeling I've had waking up these past several months, but today I put a finger on what ails me. Thirty-nine years ago, sociologist Alvin Toffler defined it: future shock. It's a personal perception of too much change too quickly, and I've got it bad.

6 comments:

mlutwak said...

I must recommend Polanyi's THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION -- an exquisitely written book on the societal impacts of the Industrial Revolution.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Maybe you were too isolated these last few years? Scary stuff has been rampant -- but perhaps only recently extended its tendrils into upstate NY...
Alternatively, you can try http://goodnewsdaily.com/

KAZ said...

No, it's not about scary stuff so much as change, whether technological or otherwise. Newspapers closing, banks failing, jobs vanishing, being able to text my husband in real time as he sits in the stands at the Pepsi Arena--it's all disorienting and more than a little bit alarming.

Anonymous said...

Try China.

mlutwak said...

I think Kathy has her finger on something here -- it's not just about accelerated change, it's about that point at which one simply runs out of the ability to keep up. All of we "digital immigrants" will hit that wall sooner or later. And it's not just technology, it's the sheer complexity and size of everything we have to deal with -- from paperwork and regulations to politics to amounts of disorganized, unfiltered information to that sense that the whole mess is truly out of anyone's control. Not that it has ever been in anyone's control, but now we really know it. Surely there are biological limits to the amount of change up with which we can put.

KAZ said...

My pal Kris posted this on Facebook--a Toffler quote that fits: "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."

A few years ago I tried to find out what publishing company now owned my titles. It took weeks to sort it all out because companies had merged, changed names, sold off parts, etc., all in the space of a few months. That's very different from my world of 20 years ago.

I think at the edges of the freakout are things like local foods movements and the growing numbers of Quakers I know. There's something quite appealing about sitting for an hour in silence.