What is Future Shock?

9 July, 2021

Written by Claire Bennett – Mental Health Practitioner

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by how quickly and constant technology and information moves? I know from a business and personal perspective there can be so much pressure to stay on top of what is happening, and the instructions to do things get less and less prescriptive as it feels like the younger generation can understand things so intuitively. But what about us 40+ age group? Whilst I do not consider myself to be ‘old school’ it really is starting to feel overwhelming.

There seems to be a constant barrage of emojis, browsers, hangouts, hashtags, cookies, click-baits, influencers, passwords, hyperlinks, cyberspace, pins, posts, likes, follows, IMO, AITA. (I don’t even know what those last two stand for!) I believe this is really starting to have an impact on our mental health. I am not alone in this belief and if you are feeling an increase in anxiety and stress due to the demands in technology then you could be experiencing ‘future shock’.

The term future shock was first coined by Alvin Toffler and Adelaide Farrell in their 1970 book of the same name. They explored how the concept can impact individuals and entire societies alike. They summed the concept up as “too much change in too short a period of time.”

The experience of future shock is a sense of overwhelm or disorientation which, when you look at the speed of change in the technology world, is easy to understand. Since 2007 there have been 29 iterations of the iPhone, with constant changes in how it can be used and further developments bettering the latest model. That’s at least two new models per year in the last 14 years!

The issue we have is that we are the same human beings who, a few hundred years ago, farmed fields and worked the land – we have no natural defence for information overload. Of course, all of these changes and updates and information pinging on our phones all day have a detrimental effect on our mental health.

The answer is not the change in the speed at which technology is progressing; there are many benefits to that such as clean energy, faster more efficient communication methods and medical advancements. Really, what we need to remember is that we do have a choice in how we engage. We can now control the notifications we receive, the time spent on our phones or in front of screens.

Here are some easy tips to help tackle future shock.

 

Find Balance

Understand what the right balance for you is. We all use technology and for certain aspects of our lives, we need it. So, what’s the right balance for you? Explore it and make the changes to strike it.

 

Connect

If you feel overwhelmed or anxious then reach out for support. Whether that’s practical support from someone more confident with the technology or just to talk to someone about how you are feeling. Connection is so vitally important to our mental health and our feeling of self-worth.

 

Engage the Senses

Get back in touch with our human nature:

  • Spend time holding those we love.
  • Taste the foods we enjoy.
  • Experience nature and smell the roses.
  • Listen to our favourite song on the radio.

 

Turn Off

You are in control of that power button, once you have explored what the right balance is for you. Make sure you have time in your day where you switch it off.

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