Future Shock is Here

In 1970, futurist Alvin Toffler and his wife, Adelaide Farrell, wrote a groundbreaking book called Future Shock, which became an

international bestseller. The term Future Shock defined as “too much change in too short a period of time,” instantly became part of our lexicon. If that’s what we were experiencing then, in the fifty years since the book was published, we have seen the amount and speed of change increase beyond our wildest imaginations.

A website called Best Life Online lists “50 Ways Life Has Changed in the Last 50 Years.” Here are eight of them that affect our lives right now:

  1. Exercise isn’t just for fitness fanatics anymore. It definitely is for our generation as more and more of us are getting into the exercise habit. We do it to stay healthy, mobile, independent, mentally sharp, and, yes, attractive.
  2. People are connected 24/7. Virtually nobody has a home phone, but ninety-seven percent of Americans own cell phones; 85 percent own smart phones. We call, we text, we send photos and videos, and we can’t imagine life without this tiny computer that lets us do everything from ordering groceries to watching movies.
  3. The news cycle is 24 hours. I counted ninety twenty-four-hour news channels. All we have to do is choose the ones that reflect our philosophy or political leanings.
  4. We have an unimaginable amount of information at our fingertips any time we want it. There are seven major search engines in the United States, with Google capturing 70 percent of market share. Have a question—any question? “Google it.”
  5. Our private lives are a whole lot less private. Nothing is a secret anymore. With just a few clicks, anyone can find out just about anything about you—your address and phone number, your age, your estimated income, your employer, your marital status, and the members of your immediate family.
  6. Virtually everyone owns a computer. Not everyone is a techie, of course, but most of us function pretty well, especially if we have grandchildren. Some of us were introduced to computers way back in the eighties; if not, we learned our way around them, eventually.
  7. We’re living longer but getting older isn’t what it used to be. When we look at pictures of our parents when they were the age we are now, we can see a world of difference. Somehow, we look younger. Perhaps it is a more active lifestyle or life-long learning classes or more youthful hairstyles. We work longer and retire later; we have smaller families; and we enjoy a wider array of interests and interactions, thanks to social media.
  8. Concerns about security have become more important than ever. The world seems more dangerous than it used to. We go through all kinds of inconveniences at airports (but don’t have to take our shoes off when we hit seventy-five). Phone and email scams aimed at our age group are ubiquitous. Peaceful demonstrations are frequent and often turn ugly. Senseless crimes fill the evening news.

Imagine what changes the next fifty years will bring!