Present Shock | Douglas Rushkoff

Summary of: Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now
By: Douglas Rushkoff


Welcome to the riveting world of ‘Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now’ by Douglas Rushkoff. In this summary, we will explore the dramatic shift in our society as it struggles to keep up with the fast-paced, ever-evolving digital age. The book shines a light on how future shock has transformed into present shock, casting aside traditional storytelling in favor of fragmented narratives, and creating a myriad of digital identities known as digiphrenia. We also delve into how the concept of time has been reshaped and the influence of various timescales on cultural, geological, and political changes. Join us to better understand how our state of present shock impacts our everyday lives and the world around us.

Future Shock in the Present

The book explores how cultural and technological change has progressed at an unprecedented rate, leading to a state of present shock. The author explains that the fast pace of change has made people feel lost in the modern world, leading to a lack of direction and motivation for planning a better tomorrow. Instead, people have become focused on instant gratification and desire for quick gains. The book highlights how this feeling is pervasive in modern society, with few investors seeking long-term investments and instead opting for deals that offer instant benefits. The book presents a thought-provoking perspective on the impact of technology and cultural change on our lives, leading to a present that many find challenging to navigate.

The Evolution of Storytelling

For centuries, stories followed a linear structure with a clear beginning, middle, and end. However, people learned to distrust these stories due to politicians and advertisers who used them to manipulate audiences. As a result, our preference for storytelling has evolved into a more fragmented form. This evolution is enabled by technology where we can easily switch through channels or switch to a new YouTube video. Stories are instruments of thought that give order to the world around us, which is why people used the classic hero’s journey structure. Nowadays, this structure is no longer trusted because people have had experiences that have made them skeptical towards traditional stories.

The Dangers of Digiphrenia

In the present digital era, people have multiple digital identities which can lead to a sensation called digiphrenia. Digiphrenia is the feeling of being in multiple places at once. While it may seem beneficial, constant notifications and distractions can take us out of the present moment and cause fatigue. Even more extreme examples, like drone pilots who go from killing in war zones to returning home with their families, can cause severe stress disorders. It is imperative to learn how to manage our digital identities and connect to our physical environments to avoid the negative effects of digiphrenia.

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