“Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now” is a new book from Douglas Rushkoff that introduces the phenomenon of “presentism”, or as the title describes – “present shock” (since many of us are finding it hard to adapt to the “new normal”.)
The title of the book is a play off of Alvin Toffler’s 1970 book, “Future Shock“, in which Toffler brought forward a theory that because of the ever increasing and faster rate of change in people’s lives eventually we’ll hit a maximum capacity which in turn resulted in a sense of shock and an inability to cope (oversimplyfying there – also a good read.)
In Present Shock Rushkoff argues (rather convincingly) that the future is now and we’re contending with a fundamentally new challenge… that we no longer have a sense of a future, of goals, of direction at all. We have a completely new relationship to time; we live in an always-on “now,” society where the priorities of this moment seem to be everything, and that fact defines everything that happens (or doesn’t happen) around us.
I was completely fascinated by this book. I literally needed to tear myself away from it – I thought to myself “Yes, Yes, Yes, OMG, Brilliant” as I read page after page, chapter after chapter. From the collapse of the narrative we are experiencing in the mediums of our culture, to digiphrenia, to overwinding… Rushkoff brilliantly describes what our Modern culture has evolved to (for better or worse.)
As my title describes, I was expecting a good read… what I found was a GREAT read -that’s my “shock.”
As I learned about “present shock”, a state that is paralyzing many… “pleasantly” I found a level of comfort reading the theory that Rushkoff put forward, feeling empowered, as the book made things abundantly clear to me by laying out exactly what’s going on in the world around us (all done so w/ great examples and case’s brought forward to support much of Rushkoff’s arguments) therefore making it that much easier to adapt.
If you have a spare 6 hours – devote them to this book – you will not regret it.