Future Shock

‘Future Shock’ is a documentary film based on the book written
in 1970 by sociologist and futurist Alvin Toffler. Released in 1972,
with a cigar-chomping Orson Welles as on-screen narrator, this piece of futurism
is darkly dystopian and oozing techno-paranoia… A great opening features
a montage of car crashes and civil unrest intercut with two figures walking
in a green field (while creepy synthesizers play in the background) who are
soon revealed to be automatons with creepy robot faces — a nice metaphor
for the fear of the unrecognizable, cold, and chaotic future society that
Toffler thought we were all headed for…

So what exactly is “Future Shock”? Sociologist and futurist Alvin Toffler explains:
“We may define future shock as the distress, both physical and psychological,
that arises from an overload of the human organism’s physical adaptive systems
and it’s decision-making processes… Put more simply, future shock is the human response to over-stimulation…”

“Toffler’s main argument is that humanity (as of 1970, when the book was written), is in the midst of an enormous shift from an industrial society
to a super-industrial society; this new society will be characterized by such
things as an acceleration of images, words, ideas, and technologies that
could possibly overwhelm mankind, resulting in a serious disconnect when
these new ideas reach their fruition (if not well before then). This disconnect
is ‘future shock’, an inability to process the enormous amounts of information
and change associated with the super-industrial revolution. Toffler likens
future shock to the same sort of disorientation that a person experiences
when he moves to a new area, or a new country, and suffers a severing
of all he has known. While some people can adjust with seeming ease
to this kind of dislocation, most of us suffer various maladies
from this ‘shock’… Toffler ends up attributing most of societies ills
to this jarring social shock. Crime, drug use, the disintegration of society,
the burgeoning of quasi-religious movements: all of these are symptoms
of a society that can no longer cope with the vast amounts of information
and change that technology is bringing about…”

“Some of Toffler’s visions are pretty impressive. Toffler accurately
anticipated many of the sorts of psychological, social, and economic maldies
and turbulence of the last thirty years (yet, to date literally no one seems
to pay much heed to his thesis, or to ask what it means for the quality of life
in our own futures)… ‘Future Shock’ is an important book raising critical
and fundamental questions about the social, economic, and political impacts
of technologically-induced innovations within contemporary society
and the way they are flooding uncontested and unhampered
into our social environment…”