Originally Published on OpEdNews
Here is a link to the audio podcast.
Thanks to Don Caldarazzo for doing the transcript.
Rob Kall: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township, reaching metro Philly and South Jersey, sponsored by Opednews.com. My guest tonight is Douglas Rushkoff. Douglas is the author of ten books. The one we're going to talk about is Present Shock. Welcome to the show!
Douglas Rushkoff Hi! Good to be with you.
Rob Kall: Yeah. You know, I looked at the title, and it grabbed me because I love Alvin Toffler's Future Shock, written - what, 40 years ago? Something like that?
Douglas Rushkoff Mm hmm.
Rob Kall: And then I started reading it, and this book grabbed me over and over again, in so many different ways. You've written a really good, exciting, fascinating, smart book here that I think will be very valuable for anybody who is interested in the Web. What really grabbed me is, a lot of the topics that you're discussing are things I've worked with for a long time.
But let's get started here by getting a definition. What is "Present Shock?"
Douglas Rushkoff I guess Present Shock is "The human reaction to living in a world in which everything happens now." It's a real time, always on existence, without a sense of an origin, or goals, without a past or a a future. There's really just this moment. And when you don't have those kinds of time-lines (or even the social rhythms that used to ground us temporally), you can end up in what I'm calling "Present Shock," or "A state of temporal disarray."
Rob Kall: OK. You say in your book that "If the end of the 20th century can be characterized by futurism, the 21st can be defined by Presentism." So you've got Present Shock; what is "Presentism?"
Douglas Rushkoff Well, it's the same as - Futurism is to Future Shock as Presentism is to Present Shock. Presentism would be "The notion that we're no longer leaning towards the future, we're no longer in an Industrial Age Culture obsessed with progress, and growth, and futures." We're not leaning into the 21st century from the end of the 20th, living in all those 1990s with every long tail, and long boom, and next-big-things, but actually, we've arrived. We're here. This is no longer a culture that's obsessed with where we're going; we're more interested in keeping what we have with sustainability - and the now - then we are with growth and the future.
Rob Kall: But you describe that, in a lot of ways, as a liability: you say, "We tend to exist in a distracted present where forces on the periphery are magnified, and those immediately before us are ignored. Our ability to create a plan (much less follow through on it) is undermined by our need to be able to improvise our way through any number of external impacts that stand to derail us at any moment."
Douglas Rushkoff Right. That's because we're in Present Shock, not in Presentism. (chuckles) We're not really embracing the actual "present" of other people; we're not embracing the social reality. We're not aware of what phase of the moon we're in, or whether it's even day or night. We're just in an always-on continuum. So when we're chasing the "now" of Twitter, or chasing the now on our smartphones, rather than the now that we're actually in -- yeah. We end up in this state of perpetual distraction, or perpetual emergency interruption, where you can't follow through on anything.
Rob Kall: And you
describe how what we're doing with our brains is, instead of using our
pre-frontal [cortices] (the smart part of our brains), you say, "They push us
toward acting in what is thought of as an instinctual, reptilian fashion."