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Present Shock

When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

11:25am, May 31, 2013


In the 1970 book Future Shock, Alvin Toffler popularized a term for the disorientation that people suffer when they can’t cope with the pace of change around them. Media theorist Rushkoff makes a good case that this predicament has arrived in a generation struggling to live a modern life that’s always on.

He starts by decrying the decline of narrative in Western culture. The recent technology explosion — from television to video games to YouTube — has put stories on life support, Rushkoff argues. Early TV used reminders about plotlines. (Everyone knew where “a three-hour tour” was headed.) But cable TV and the remote control now allow viewers to flit from show to show. A generation of viewers lost the narrative thread, reaching rock bottom with reality TV.

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