Future Shock


Future Shock is a book written by the futurist Alvin Toffler and published in 1970. Toffler defined the term “future shock” as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies. A short definition as stated by Toffler – a personal perception of “too much change in too short a period of time”. The book stemmed from an article “The Future as a Way of Life” in Horizon magazine’s Summer 1965 issue.

A documentary film based on the book (with narration by Orson Welles) was released in 1972.

His analysis of the phenomenon of information overload is continued in his later publications, especially The Third Wave and Powershift.

From Wikipedia:

Toffler argued that society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a “super-industrial society”. This change overwhelms people. He believed the accelerated rate of technological and social change left people disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation”—future shocked. Toffler stated that the majority of social problems are symptoms of future shock. In his discussion of the components of such shock, he popularized the term “information overload.”

Also from Wikipedia:

Alvin Toffler distinguished three stages in development of society and production: agrarian, industrial and post-industrial.

The first stage began in the period of the Neolithic Era when people invented agriculture, thereby passing from barbarity to a civilization. The second stage began in England with the Industrial Revolution during which people invented the machine tool and the steam engine. The third stage began in the second half of the 20th century in the West when people invented automatic production, robotics and the computer. The services sector attained great value.

Toffler proposed one criterion for distinguishing between industrial society and post-industrial society: the share of the population occupied in agriculture versus the share of city labor occupied in the services sector. In a post-industrial society, the share of the people occupied in agriculture does not exceed 15%, and the share of city laborers occupied in the services sector exceeds 50%. Thus, the share of the people occupied with brainwork greatly exceeds the share of the people occupied with physical work in post-industrial society.