Thursday, August 10, 2017

Future Shock

This weeks topic was my suggestion. Future Shock by Alvin and Heidi (uncredited) Tofler was assigned reading in my college days and I thoroughly enjoyed the book - easily one of my two favorite assigned reading books in college, the other being Earth Ahides by George R. Stewart.

The Toflers were futurists and according to them, “Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.” Among the accelerating changes they predicted are the “electronic frontier” of the Internet, Prozac, YouTube, cloning, home-schooling, the self-induced paralysis of too many choices, instant celebrities “swiftly fabricated and ruthlessly destroyed,” and the end of blue-collar “second-wave” manufacturing, to be replaced by a “third wave” of knowledge workers. The book was published in 1970.  The future they were discussing is now.

The Toflers divided civilization into three phases which they called waves. 
  1. First Wave - the agricultural revolution
  2. Second Wave - the industrial revolution too much change in too short a period of time.
  3. Third Wave - the information age - which is now ongoing
Future shock is defined in several ways, the simplest and most straight forward is too much change in too short a period of time. The result of the rapid change is people are overwhelmed. Information overload creates a sort of social paralysis. While the rapid changes are occurring people lose touch with the familiarity of older institutions.  Does any of that sound familiar? Have you ever seen a post on Facebook harkening back to "the old days" by starting off "Back in the day". If your Facebook newsfeed is anything like mine there are several such posts a day. It is usually a post by an aging baby boomer who has been through decades of rapid changes and longs for a simpler time.

The Toflers got many of their predictions correct but they seem to have underestimated the ability of people to cope with rapid change. Take a look at Millennials - they are quick on their feet and very tech savvy. They seem to cope with change quite well although they seem to demand immediate gratification in most things, That is a change they will have to make IMHO.

How well do you deal with the rapid changes we have been dealing with for decades? I have embraced the changes that advance us technologically and for an old guy am comfortable with most technology. The preponderance of social media platforms is fascinating but I still prefer direct contact, even if by email. I find a lot of what gets posted on Facebook unintentionally hilarious, especially if the poster is a Millennial. It seems everything is fair game.

I find as a society we have managed the stresses presented by the Toflers quite well, although the 2016 election here is something of an anomaly.   POTUS 45 was a lifelong Democrat who switched parties and managed to appeal to enough folks to win an electoral college victory while losing the popular vote by three million or so votes, Now we are in a position of having to deal with what we asked for (he is my President regardless of who I preferred).

The evangelicals are certainly happy and would prefer rolling the culture back 50 years or so. My regular readers no doubt recall where I stand on religion and God
If not or if you are interested, simply click here.

We are legitimately at a point in time that can be called the best of times and the worst of times. I have dealt with the passing of my life partner (we were together for 45 years) and have recently connected with family members through and have seen a  family tree with 10,000 names that includes mine. A newly reconnected cousin and I share the most DNA from our shared heritage - I knew her and her sisters when I was a child in Colorado.

Since this weekly blogging exercise is not a school exercise, while there is much more to say that will have to be for a different time. Be sure to check RamanaPravinMaria and Ashok to see what they have to say.

With a bit of luck we can all look back and realize we have survived the stresses of change because we were all so much older then but we are younger than that now.


  1. Yes, dear friend, we have survived the shocks of the third wave and also the personal ones very successfully. Something in our generation gave us the resilience to handle all that was thrown at us. The millennials may be able to handle the stress of the information technology better than our generation did and does now, but they have less resilience to some of the tougher problems of the sort that our generation had to face and overcome.

    My compliments on a great blog post. .

  2. Thank you and I heartily agree about the Millennials - they need to step up and consider things other than themselves

  3. Oh, I had forgotten all about the stir Future Shock caused when published. Thanks for the reminder. I distinctly recall a short period of time when I felt overwhelmed with too much choice and too little time to thoroughly compare them all for the best one for me at that time. But I've adjusted and adapted to all the change, probably because much of my earlier years beginning when I was a young child presented me with needing to do so. I am as competent with today's technology as my needs require, but cannot say I've mastered this ever-changing
    tech world.

    This is the first leader in my country for whom I have to say, he is not my president. I say this only because his words and actions make it very clear his intent is for our government to be other than the constitutional democratic republic intended by our forefathers.

    1. Hello Ms. Joared,

      Your second paragraph describes a political shock.

    2. Joared it should come as no surprise that 45 wants to blow up the government - that is the stated objective of his man Bannon and he is my president only because I live here -

    3. It was no surprise to me as to this Prez's intent before he was ever elected. He long expounded on his views, then connected with someone who shared them -- Bannon. I recognize he is the legally elected Prez of our country, though that is under a questionable cloud by some, and I respect we are a nation of laws, even if he is using them against our form of government. But it's because of the latter that I wrote what i did -- a matter of semantics to some extent. :-)

    4. The buffoon in chief crossed a line this past weekend. I will no longer in any way tolerate the narcisstic, spoiled little rich boy - and the GOP better get its act together quickly. Note how Bannon has reacted with his allegedly off the record interview.

  4. Internet technology especially social media has changed the way people interact. I am afraid to find the fact that my daughter likes to open facebook to interact with friends and family. It seems that he is drifting in a virtual world.

    I prefer as you said : "The preponderance of social media platforms is fascinating but I still prefer direct contact, even if by email."
    Yes direct contact - gather together with friend while drinking beer, Cheers!

    Good post!