Not signed in (Sign In)
  1.  (50.41)
    It's a while since I read Toffler, but I seem to recall a symptom of Future Shock for some individuals is to retreat into less complex systems and beliefs - such as fundamentalist religions. Now if there was any of that going on, I'd be worried...
    I do agree with Warren that whole cultures can (as Judge Dredd put it) 'go Futzy'.

    Similarly (as suggested by my-wife-the-ex-neurochemist-shaman pointed out), whole countries can also suffer from post-traumatic stress.
    The example she used was Israel. A country colonised by PTSD-hammered survivors of the camps, raising their kids in an intensely fucked dynamic. (Her family got out of Germany just after Krystallnacht - most of them. The PTSD-in-family reached them too. She had a grandfather whose catch-phrase was 'For this I survived Auschwitz ?')

    I think a good tool to fend of future shock is having read a lot of SF as a kid and keeping it up now. And having some idea of meme hygiene also helps.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJaredRules
    • CommentTimeDec 1st 2007
     (50.42)
    what do you mean by "meme hygeine?" Like, selective meme transmission?
    •  
      CommentAuthorlofidelity
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
     (50.43)
    Selective transmission would be a start. Also filtering out some of the worst by catch phrase before you catch them (anything with MMORPG in the description being a good start) and of course avoiding the sort of people who are prone to contamination. These are most commonly identified by the large number of "FW:" subject lines coming from their email. Filter them straight to the garbage bin unless you know they practice safe meme exchange too.

    Any graphic designers want to make up a nice "Safe Meme Exchange" pamphlet? One of the nice cartoon ones like the airline safety sheets they put in the seats? (I looked for an example, but this is the best I could find and it's not that funny.

    And before anyone asks....I am exceedingly horrible at graphics...
    Really horrible.
  2.  (50.44)
    By 'meme hygiene', I meant having a basic understanding of how memes are propagated, how people imprint on ideas which appeal to them or hit them at times of vulnerability (and the side-effects of infection), being media-savvy enough to spot when someone's pushing propaganda rather than stating fact - and of how to self-correct if a bad idea gets stuck in your head.
    It's old tech now, but John Lilly's "Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer" is pretty good for this. A bit of Robert Anton Wilson would also go well. Oddly, I'm not sure Dawkins' original thesis 'The Selfish Gene' is actually that useful, though of course it defines the term.

    Though Lofidelity above has some fine ideas also.
    •  
      CommentAuthorm1k3y
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
     (50.45)
    "Change is the only constant" and "Stasis is death", that's what reading the Gaia Hypothesis taught me.

    This is a generation raised on the NextBigThing. The cult of the new. Drooling over the new iPod/iPhone/game/.. that still only exists as vapourware.
    As soon as it arrives in reality though they're bored, and move onto the next thing. The next artifact from the future.

    Other's are re-contextualizing the past [see retropunk], or playing with past (paleo)futures.

    As Alan Moore said in Steampunk Mag #3 :
    at this juncture of the 21st century we are more aware of ourselves—we are more aware of our past—than culture has ever been before. Because of the internet, because of our tremendous archives that we’ve accrued, the culture of the past is open to us. And as we look at it, we can see that it’s a fabulous junkyard of ideas that may have been incredibly beautiful—and may have had an awful lot of life left in them—that have been discarded by the relentless forward rolling of culture and our insistence upon new things every day. I think that we’re now in a position where we can look back at the wonderful, glorious remains of our previous cultures—our previous mindsets—and we can use elements from that treasure trove to actually craft things that are appropriate to our future.


    As Cat Vincent was saying, it's the Future Shocked that are the problem/impediment/enemy? today.

    Bruce Sterling puts it far better than I could:

    Maybe, as in Cory's "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" we just have to wait for THEM to die off, and then we can create the Bitchun Society.
    Unfortunately though, they seem to want to take us with them.

    Or as Bruce was saying, we need to create an even brighter vision of the future.

    Either way, I think it's future's all around. Can we call it the Long Future, instead of the Long Now?
    •  
      CommentAuthorJaredRules
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
     (50.46)
    If we're in the future, then where's my fucking jetpack???!!!
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
     (50.47)
    As true now as it was when it was written eighty two years ago:

    "Modern science has imposed upon humanity the necessity for
    wandering. Its progressive thought and its progressive
    technology make the transition through time, from generation
    to generation, a true migration into uncharted seas of
    adventure. The very benefit of wandering is that it is
    dangerous and needs skill to avert evils. We must expect,
    therefore, that the future will disclose dangers. It is
    the business of the future to be dangerous; and it is
    among the merits of science that it equips the future for
    its duties.
    The prosperous middle classes, who ruled the
    nineteenth century, placed an excessive value upon the
    placidity of existence. They refused to face the necessities
    for social reform imposed by the new industrial system,
    and they are now refusing to face the necessities for
    intellectual reform imposed by the new knowledge. The
    middle class pessimism over the future of the world comes
    from a confusion between civilization and security. In the
    immediate future there will be less security than in the
    immediate past, less stability. It must be admitted that
    there is a degree of instability which is inconsistent with
    civilization. But, on the whole, the great ages have
    been unstable ages."
    --Alfred North Whitehead,"Science and the Modern World," 1925.

    Emphasis mine.
    •  
      CommentAuthorm1k3y
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
     (50.48)
    @StefanJ - that's brilliant!
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2007
     (50.49)
    Frederick Pohl once wrote a short-short called "Day Million."

    It's a rant about progress and the future disguised as a love story between a cyborg space man and a transgendered posthuman otter-woman. (Plot: They collide in a hallway, take a liking to the other, and swap virtual-reality profiles for convenient cyber-wanking.)

    Pohl was stomping through Kurzweil's turf forty year ago:

    "If she thinks of you at all, her thirty-times-great-great grandfather, she thinks you're a pretty primordial sort of brute. You are. Why, Dora is farther removed from you than you are from the australopithecines of five thousand centuries ago. You could not swim a second in the strong currents of her life. You don't think progress goes in a straight line, do you? Do you recognize that it is an ascending, accelerating, maybe even exponential curve? It takes hell's own time to get started, but when it goes it goes like a bomb. And you, you Scotch-drinking, steak-eater in your Relaxicizer chair, you've just barely lighted the primacord of the fuse."
  3.  (50.50)
    Similarly (as suggested by my-wife-the-ex-neurochemist-shaman pointed out), whole countries can also suffer from post-traumatic stress


    Thats a really good point. I wrote an essay (more accurately: a CRAP essay) on Japansese culture and how the atomic bombs effects could be seen right through the country's output: Fear of tech in manga (akira IS the bomb), noise music (merzbow etc) and how japanese culture has changed dramatically since; turning slowly away from traditions and restraint to more technological obsessions (the atomic bomb being literally western influence on Japan) and rebellious ideas.

    Japan is the occidental gateway to the oriental.

    Futureshock will only be realised in retrospect, I think. Life is all about adaptation; thats how we and other species can cling desperately to this spinning rock of ours. We mutate to fit the circumstances. Now, I understand that technology is a whole different mess to throw in this pot but isn't technology a continuation of evolution? We are natural creatures therefore what we make is part of nature, right? A nest, a termite hill, warrens (heh) are all considered natural. why can't buildings and robots be viewed as a natural part of evolution?

    Heres the real problem:

    Every generation is frightened that it will be the one to face down the coming Apocalypse/Armageddon/Whatever like a weak-hearted businessman on a strip-club floor. But, these 'end-of-the-world' scenarios have been faced before – so many civilisations have risen and fallen (and that is the end of their world, folks) – but more powerful technology has created a much smaller world: A single nuclear/atomic/whatever bomb will reverberate through history - be it environmental (Chernobyl) or cultural (Hiroshima) damage - whilst a bunch of bombs will destroy history.

    No people… no records… no history… because history is only for humanity and books; both of which burn easily.


    A world that has pharmaceutical companies making as many cures as viruses is a world bent on it’s own self-destruction.

    But all this won’t come until we are choked by our own cultural effluence. The constant recycling of ideas which are presented as fresh to each successive generation and moulded from plastics that will never degrade has become a junkyard cage around us. Music (in the charts at least), art, literature etc is regurgitated with more and more frightening frequency.

    We are choking on our own sense of irony.

    This is not a conducive atmosphere for new ideas. It’s more like we live (both figuratively and literally) in a state of perpetual anaesthesia (the ‘fluffy’ future). To paraphrase Bill Hicks: Here are 52 channels of ‘American Gladiators’; go back to bed.

    Elsewhere, our living in a continuous somatic-fug creates fallout that everyone else is paying for. The Capitalist wet-dream is an attractive proposition to anyone who lives outside of the haze. For example:

    You’re young, bored and stupid: In comes a well-dressed man offering you security and the prospect of cash – you take it.

    You’re young, bored and starving: In comes a dangerous man offering you a gun and the prospect of cash - you take it.

    You’re young, bored and angry: In comes a dangerous man offering you a bomb and the prospect of heaven - you take it.

    I can’t tell the difference anymore.
  4.  (50.51)
    Every generation is frightened that it will be the one to face down the coming Apocalypse/Armageddon/Whatever like a weak-hearted businessman on a strip-club floor.


    I don't know it's that we're frightened... I think it's that we aren't any good at planning the Future and so we assume we must be It. Everything has been building up to us, we're the most important thing there has ever been, etc etc. Then again, Gregory Rawlins has turned me into a cynic.
  5.  (50.52)
    Thats a fair point, willow (can I call you willow?). Each generation is composed of individuals who think they are the stars of their own TV show believing they are followed by some invisible audience. Most of us (very much including me) have difficulty in planning for a future. I, for instance, am unemployed when I could have sorted out a job before leaving my previous position. It's not that I'm dumb (well... actually) or lazy (wait...) it's just that it didn't occur to me (making me BOTH dumb and lazy). ;P
    •  
      CommentAuthorbschory
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2007
     (50.53)
    It occurs to me that for the average coward, it is simply that one has to either be secure enough in his present that the risks the future poses can be dealt with in a way that is not severely detrimental to his well-being, or desperate enough to try anything to get out of the rut the he is current in (or has been desperate for so long there is no will to even try anymore).

    The problem seems to be we are somewhere between the two. We, as a whole, are not secure enough in our present to say that if we upset the balance of things in some way it won't have catastrophic effects for us, so we're not willing to go out on a limb and see what we can achieve. In the U.S. we have an economy circling the drain, and a level of pessimism that hasn't been encountered in a long while. Yet, we here still perceive our current circumstance as salvageable, not hopeless, since so recently things were getting better in these areas.

    I am not sure we will ever be secure enough in our present for the masses to want a leap in to the future, and if we become desperate, the attractive choice will be what will get us ahead quickly so we can live well again, not what will provide for any long term security or growth.

    I was thinking about the "Greatest Generation" and what their influence really was, and something came to me. This is a generation driven, in the U.S. at least, by two major crisis, the Great Depression and World War II. In response to the desperation brought on by these crisis a number of things happened. In WWII men stood up to be counted and go off to war to fight for their way of life, and women stood to replace at home to support the war effort. The Great Depression was offset by sweeping political reform. Both were aided by the advancement of technology through science. When the crisis were over and it was seen how much these new systems had aided us (the benefits of having women contributing in the workplace, New Deal style political reform, and technology), that generation took it upon themselves to continue to apply it towards building a better future. One of many example, and one of the most important, the Civil Rights movement advocated sweeping political reform to give a large portion of Americans their fair treatment (and rightfully so).

    It is not possible that all these years later the momentum incurred by these acts of desperation is finally running out, and we're sinking in to another time of desperation until someone can figure out the next big kick in the pants to drive us forward yet again?

    Just some thoughts on the subject, don't know what they're worth, but they may be good fodder for someone else to run on.
  6.  (50.54)
    think they are the stars of their own TV show believing they are followed by some invisible audience.

    I agree with this, and feel that the Internet and blogging have added to this. Journals are no longer personal entries, but meant to be read by those you dictate.

    We, as a whole, are not secure enough in our present to say that if we upset the balance of things in some way it won't have catastrophic effects for us, so we're not willing to go out on a limb and see what we can achieve.

    It doesn't matter how secure you are - people will not take huge changes unless the potential pros outweigh the cons, which is really part of what I'm getting out of your entry. I feel that we're using the small bits of tech being fed to us to try to remedy what we still see as issues - but the issues aren't vital ones, they're about keeping up (or is this vital?).

    (and yes, I respond to Willow. I also respond to bl00, Wil, and sugar-tits)
    •  
      CommentAuthorbadger
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2007
     (50.55)
    The Argentine writer Alan Pauls proposes, "The great theme of the private journal in the 20th century is sickness" and ""those writing great private journals in the last century [i.e., the 20th] did not do so to know who they were, but kept them to know what they were turning into, in which unforeseeable direction catastrophe was taking them."

    (I'm lifting these Pauls quotes from an essay on Enrique Vila-Matas by Scott Esposito, The Fruits of Parasitism.)

    Public journals could be an interpretation of a sickness of an entire society.
  7.  (50.56)
    The big reason that fear about the future exists is because that is what people are told what to expect from the future. Their images of the future are vague, dangerous, uncontrollable, and surprising. The reality is that people can and do control the future every day - as long as they envison wha they want and plan accordingly.

    (The vision is the easy part, the planning is that hard part and the part people understand the least.)

    People aren't sold a positive, ownable vision of the future, so they get scared. And they aren't given a lot of faith that people know what theire doing about planning for the future, so that scares them, too.

    Above all - expect the unexpected, and plan to be flexible. Adaptation is the only way to survive what the future has in store.
  8.  (50.57)
    And bring a change of underwear.
    •  
      CommentAuthorWillow Bl00
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2007 edited
     (50.58)
    what they were turning into

    I really like this idea. We are a culture fascinated by our own cycles. We have become self aware - but now can we become self-determining?

    The reality is that people can and do control the future every day - as long as they envison wha they want and plan accordingly.

    This is what being a Transhumanist is all about to me. I like being human - don't know that I want to be a robot when I grow up (as I've said in the past) - but now I'm more into having a say in what future I'm a part of.

    And bring a change of underwear.

    ..or just forgo the underwear. This is, after all, the Future.
  9.  (50.59)
    ..or just forgo the underwear. This is, after all, the Future


    Ah, one can hope...Footloose and flaccidness freed...
  10.  (50.60)
    The big reason that fear about the future exists is because that is what people are told what to expect from the future. Their images of the future are vague, dangerous, uncontrollable, and surprising. The reality is that people can and do control the future every day - as long as they envison wha they want and plan accordingly.


    Definately. We've become seperated from one and other, become too obssessed with our own solipsistic (sp?) realities. Striking has been all but destroyed by credit card bills and mortgages (ugh... sp?); fame (which is a very lonely pursuit) has become the number one preoccupation and the information overload has got everyone scurrying for their tiny bit of - supposed - immortality.

    Because we have gone too far down the humanist/individualist path it is difficult to get anything changed. No great figures of history ever worked alone (bad example: Jesus had disciples... and a mum). There is so much vested interest in keeping people worried about themselves and their own and of keeping THINGS AS THEY ARE - It is the trap of capitalism. The other trap is that it makes it pretty hard to turn down any other avenues because it wants you to worry about YOUR status, YOUR money, YOUR fame and whatever else YOU need.

    Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape - Burroughs