Douglas Rushkoff On 'Present Shock'

Rebroadcast: originally broadcast March 21, 2013.

Never mind future shock.  Douglas Rushkoff says we’re suffering “present shock.”  The tyranny of the digital, always-on “now.”

Douglas Rushkoff (Photo by Johannes Kroemer)

Douglas Rushkoff (Photo by Johannes Kroemer)

In 1970, futurist Alvin Toffler brought out a soon-famous book called “Future Shock”.  It described a world in which people could no longer keep up with the pace of change.

In 2013, big thinker Douglas Rushkoff is out with a book called “Present Shock”.  It describes a world in which the change has arrived.  In a digital tsunami.  And we are lost in it.

Tumbling in an overwhelming, almost tyrannical, “now.”  A present in which we’ve lost our cultural narrative, our past, our future.  We can drown or we can thrive, he says.

This hour, On Point:  Douglas Rushkoff and “Present Shock”.

-Tom Ashbrook


Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist, documentarian, and author of the new book, “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now.” (@rushkoff)

From Tom’s Reading List

CNN (Douglas Rushkoff) “I used to be able to justify using Facebook as a cost of doing business. As a writer and sometime activist who needs to promote my books and articles and occasionally rally people to one cause or another, I found Facebook fast and convenient. Though I never really used it to socialize, I figured it was OK to let other people do that, and I benefited from their behavior. I can no longer justify this arrangement.”

Forbes “Rushkoff toes the line between apocalypse and ascension. He diagnoses the cultural problems engendered by our disorientation from traditional concepts of time and attempts to propose concrete steps we can take to recover some sense of control and purpose.”

The New York Times “The ancient Greeks learned about the hero’s journey from Homer’s narratives. We’ve gotten decades of Homer Simpson, who ‘remains in a suspended, infinite present,’ while his audience moves from one satirical pop-culture reference to the next. Citing ‘Forrest Gump’ as a film that failed to combat late-20th-century feelings of discontinuity and ‘Pulp Fiction’ as one wild enough to usher in a new era, Mr. Rushkoff moves on to what came next: the video game open-ended structure that keeps TV drama in the eternal present.”

Excerpt: “Present Shock” by Douglas Rushkoff

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