Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

Douglas Rushkoff. Current, $25.95 (286p) ISBN 978-1-59184-476-1
Whether or not readers are familiar with the concept of presentism—the theory that society is more focused on the immediacy of the moment in front of them (actually more specifically on the moment that just passed) than the moment before or, perhaps more importantly, the future—they’ve certainly felt the increasing pressure of keeping up with various methods of communication, be it texting, Web surfing, live interactions, or a litany of other media for staying “connected.” Using Alvin Toffler’s concept of “future shock” as a jumping-off point, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff (Cyberia; Get Back in the Box; Media Virus; etc.) deftly weaves in a number of disparate concepts (the Home Shopping Network, zombies, Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns, Internet mashups, hipsters’ approximation of historical ephemera as irony, etc.) to examine the challenge of keeping up with technological advances as well as their ensuing impact on culture and human relations in a world that’s always “on.” By highlighting five areas (the rise of moronic reality TV; our need to be omnipresent; the need to compress time in order to achieve our goals; the compulsion to connect unrelated concepts in an effort to make better sense of them; and a gnawing sense of one’s obsolescence), Rushkoff gives readers a healthy dose of perspective, insight, and critical analysis that’s sure to get minds spinning and tongues wagging. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Release date: 03/21/2013
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