Future Shock

So I picked up Future Shock by Alvin Toffler at a used book sale this week. It’s one of those books that I’ve always wanted to read, but never sat down to do it. I just started it yesterday and it’s already interesting. It seems evident to me that Mr. Toffler grossly underestimated both the rate at which things would change, and that at which we will adapt. Granted, there will always be those on the cutting edge who push the standards of what is acceptable, expected, “normal”, just as there will always be those who drag their feet in fear of change and of the different. However, rather than a widening gap developing between the two, there seem to be more and more people accepting the new: grandmothers emailing links to their online photo galleries, teenagers with blogs, authors publishing their books in pdf format.

An excerpt from the first chapter:

“In the three short decades between now and the twenty-first century, millions of ordinary, psychologically normal people will face an abrupt collision with the future. Citizens of the world’s richest and most technologically advanced nations, many of them will find it increasingly painful to keep up with the incessant demand for change that characterizes our time. For them, the future will have arrived too soon.
This book is about change and how we adapt to it. It is about those who seem to thrive on change, who crest its waves joyfully, as well as those multitudes of others who resist it or seek flight from it. It is about our capacity to adapt. Is is about the future and the shock that its arrival brings. Western society for the past 300 years has been caught up in a fire storm of change. This storm, far from abating, now appears to be gathering force. Change sweeps through the highly industrialized countries with waves of ever accelerating speed and unprecedented impact. It spawns in its wake all sorts of curious social flora – from psychedelic churches and “free universities” to science cities in the Arctic and wife-swap clubs in California.
It breeds odd personalities, too: children who at twelve are no longer childlike; adults who at fifty are children of twelve. There are rich men who playact poverty, computer programmers who turn on with LSD. There are anarchists who, beneath their dirty denim shirts, are outrageous conformists, and conformists who, beneath their button-down collars, are outrageous anarchists. There are married priests and atheist ministers and Jewish Zen Buddhists. We have pop . . . and op . . . and art cinétique . . . There are Playboy Clubs and homosexual movie theaters . . . amphetamines and tranquilizers . . . anger, affluence, and oblivion. Much oblivion.”

Alvin Toffler, Future Shock

Anyway, just some thoughts from my foray into the first chapter. I’m sure I will have more to say as I continue to read.

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