April 11, 2007

Future Shock...Present Shock

I've been re-reading Alvin Toffler's 1970 juggernaut, Future Shock. At its heart, the book's premise is that there are limits to the amount of change that humans can absorb without being overwhelmed, both physiologically and psychologically. The state such an over-stimulation creates what is Toffler coined "future shock". The future, Toffler wrote, will present the super-industrial citizen with a paralyzing dilemma: overchoice.
Toffler strikingly argued that we will like to belong to subcults as a way of handling the enormous volume of information, choice, and stimuli. Typically, these subcults will reflect our lifestyle (or rather the lifestyle we desire to reflect) and we will consume the products and the values of that preferred lifestyle. In an era of fractured society (values, families, groups, etc), how interesting that we are are flocking to blogs, Facebook, and MySpace to create our virtual subcults.
We are enormously adaptive creatures and the imagination and creativity we bring to the choices we make will determine our survival of what I call our present-shock. Otherwise, Toffler contends, "we face a tempting and terrifying extension of freedom".

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