Sunday, 9 March 2014

Future Shock and beaches

In that wonderful spirit of honesty one can only attain online with total strangers, I'll admit to having recently been struggling with a rising sense of transience and anonymous pressure.

Admittedly this has a lot to do with my recent trip to Romania, and the triple-whammy of changing jobs, cities and carreers, but it also goes beyond that. A really amazing book I've only just started reading (although I have a suspicion I had a glancing contact with it during University) is 'Future Shock' by Alvin Toffler, and it has been a real eye-opener in the way it confirms what have up to now only been some unverbalised thoughts.

Should you google the book and then wonder what we can learn about the future from a book which was first published in 1970, I'd just counter by saying that in the scale of human evolution all of its ideas are as fresh and relevant as they ever were. Something the book actually deals with head-on is that old adage about humanity these days having collectively forgotten more than we ever knew up to only just recently.

To quote just one thought from the book which sums it up for me, and which is so truly scary if you dare to think about the ramifications for a bit:
What such numbers imply is nothing less revolutionary than a doubling of the total output of goods and services in the advanced societies about every fifteen years - and the doubling times are shrinking. This means, generally speaking, that the child reaching teen age in any of these societies is literally surrounded by twice as much of everything newly man-made as his parents were at the time when he was an infant. It means that by the time today's teenager reaches age thirty, perhaps earlier, a second doubling will have occurred. Within a seventy-year lifetime, perhaps five such doublings will take place - meaning, since the increases are compounded, that by the time the individual reaches old age the society around him will be producing thirty-two times as much as when he was born. Such changes in the ratio between old and new have, as we shall show, an electric impact on the habits, beliefs, and self-image of millions. Never in previous history has this ratio been transformed so radically in so brief a flick of time.
 To link back to my opening paragraph here, that particular chapter closes like this:
To survive, to avert what we have termed future shock, the individual must become infinitely more adaptable and capable than ever before. He must search out totally new ways to anchor himself, for all the old roots - religion, nation, community, family or profession - are now shaking under the hurricane impact of the accelerative thrust. Before he can do so, however, he must understand in greater detail how the effects of acceleration penetrate his personal life, creep into his behaviour and alter the quality of existence. He must, in other words, understand transcience.
Mind. Blown. This is going to be a good book.

In other news, to continue my earlier post on things you will not see in Johannesburg, I present the following additions from this morning's trip out. An attempt to just switch off from future shock, if you will: my first visit to Blaauwbergstrand with my wife.

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