Rushkoff’s Present Shock

// Posted by on 03/30/2014 (8:11 PM)

Douglas Rushkoff’s new novel, “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now,” describes his feelings towards the digital age and the way he views our society as a whole. He believes that in our world, it is impossible to multitask. You are totally invested in one thing, that you are unable to hear or do the other. Rushkoff introduces this term, “present shock,” simply meaning that we have do not have the ability to cope with the present. When you collapse the narrative that were used to having, that is when you become stuck in present shock. Rushkoff also talks about our real vs. online lives, and the difference between them. He believes that you are not the same in both, and thus you are living two opposing lives. However, I disagree with him. In the digital world that we live in today, our real lives and online ones are combined. When you post pictures on Facebook or upload videos on youtube from a concert you recently attended, those images are your real life expressed online, not two totally different lives. Rushkoff believes our online lives are taking over. If I made the argument that when you attend a concert and spend most of your time videoing it, you are still mentally present at the concert, Rushkoff would disagree. He would say that you are so engrossed in your mobile device that you are missing out on the actual show.

Although it annoys me people on their mobile devices or iPads at concerts, I still do believe you are retaining the concert and living within the moments of it. I would argue that we are able to multitask depending on the situation. Just as Turkel has explained in her articles, the society we are living in is too invested in their phones. I completely agree with this view point. If we all took a second out of our day to just stop what were doing and look around, you’d be amazed at what you would notice, and how many people you’d see on their phones. My phone recently got stolen the other day and I will admit not having it for a couple hours made me on edge. At first it was nice, however playing a division one sport in college and receiving text updates regarding practice, etc. I needed a phone. It angered me a little that I had to instantly rush to the AT&T store to activate an old phone of mine. The idea of going a couple days without one was nice, but one that I couldn’t do. Its unbelievable how digitally tuned in we all are. However, at this point I think it is impossible to change it. Is it possible for our society and the one that we have grown accustomed to, to change their usage of technology?

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Emily said...

Eliza—I agree with you in that our real lives and digital lives (social media, etc.) are definitely combined, pretty much in every way. However, I believe the opposite in the point you made about being able to video a concert and being completely mentally present. Capturing moments via pictures and video takes away from actually living in the moment. While we all want to capture moments for memories’ sake, watching a concert through a video lens is not the same thing as watching it with our own eyes. While I am guilty of doing these things sometimes, I hate myself for it and try not to. I’d rather remember funny, special, etc. moments through my actual memory than looking through a bunch of photos. But, when it comes down to it, I do agree with you in that being able to multitask is situational.
Additionally, I also think our society (particularly our generation) has become to invested and to dependent on technology. Over spring break when I was out of the country, I could not use my phone 1) because I don’t have an international plan but 2) because the wifi actually wouldn’t work… so even if I wanted to use it I couldn’t. Being so removed from the digital world made me that much more present in the real world, and I enjoyed myself and the company I was with more. I was always actively engaged and observant. Had I had my phone, this one hundred percent wouldn’t have been the case. BUT, I think this is also situational. Had I not had my phone when I was alone and away from family and friends, I agree in that I would have been extremely anxious and obsessive about having a phone back. At this point in time, and with the increasing usage rate of technology, I don’t really believe it is possible to shift society’s views. While we all know this dependency is going on, we still do nothing and we are okay with it. It would take a countrywide shift to change the way we use it. But….. with all the available ways to communicate cross country and world wide, maybe all we need is a tweet to set off the spark.

// 04/01/2014 at 12:44 pm