SXSW 2013 Video Spotlight: Watch Douglas Rushkoff Explain Present Shock

Written by Monica Sack | November 25, 2013

If you’re anything like me, you feel like you’re always playing catch up with email, always wondering what just happened to your friends on Facebook, and always anxious about all the things you’ve missed in the Twitterverse…in the last 5 minutes! Where does that feeling come from? Well, according to Douglas Rushkoff, it’s called Present Shock.

During Rushkoff’s solo presentation at the 2013 SXSW Interactive Festival (see video above), he explains how humans have become slaves to technology. Our real world relationships have suffered from the focus of trying to live in the now, even though our interpretation of the now is all wrong. He breaks it down into five kinds of present shock. I tried to figure out if there was one I related to more than the others, but unfortunately I may be a victim of all five. That being said, I think do relate to one more than others: Narrative Collapse. What is it exactly? The inability to tell a story because the idea of linear time doesn’t really exist anymore. Rushkoff gives the brilliant analogy of a clock. The old analog clock has a second hand so you visually understand where you are within a minute. But on a digital clock with no second hand, you’re holistically living in the minute (or the moment) with no concept of when that minute changes. It’s jarring and unsettling when you think about it, not having warning as to when the next minute will approach. I know I need to change my perspective on how I experience time, but for some reason I feel like it requires giving up part of my identity. Oh, the inner conflict!

Wait until you hear about Digiphrenia, Overwinding, Fractalnoia, and Apocalypto! But not to worry, this presentation isn’t meant to fill you with despair, Rushkoff does present a very real and viable solution -- you’ll just have to watch to find out what it is!

Finally, if you want even more of this man's brilliant insights, then look for the paperback version of "Present Shock" to be released in late February 2014.