The future belongs to the competent. It belongs to those who are very, very good at what they do. It does not belong to the well meaning.

Future Shock implies the unexpectedly of too much change in too short a time… it’s the feeling that nothing is permanent any more. Future SHOCK is the reaction to changes that happen so fast, that we cannot digest, nor assimilate, and adapt to it properly.

Future shock is the result of a “change machine gun” which confronts us and we have to constantly accommodate something new. For those of us who are unprepared, its effects, normally are devastating, derailing and even destructive; especially when cognitive dissonance and LAB-factors collide with each other in a Newton's Cradle effect. Relentlesslytill something gotta give!

It is difficult to accurately describe Future Shock, but it mainly implies a world spinning out of control due to runaway technology. Future shock isn't a prediction for the future, implying that chaos is inevitable… because a prepared society can always decide which direction to take, and use its technology wisely. PROVIDING that we do not stereotype change as something bad and that anything that deviates from the present norm is to be feared.

Our society is constantly in flux and has been ever since man first discover fire and invented the wheel.

Change is normal.

Change is something that happened since the universe was created or - as some people prefer to see it - materialize from nothing, due to some kind of cosmic accident. Change was, is and always will be a natural “part and parcel” of growth and development (e.g. baby → child → youth → adult → old age) which was happening for a kizillion years and will still happen for a kizillion more.

Then, why is it suddenly a such a major problem in modern times? Because… changes taking place in our modern society, are speeding up and we struggle to keep up with the tempo of change brought about by our technological advances.

Background

The construct “Future Shock” - originally coined by Alvin Toffler - implies a whole series of events that are describe in Toffler's published books, Future Shock (1970) and The Third Wave (1980) as follows…

In three short decades between now and the 21st century, millions of ordinary, psychologically normal people will face an abrupt collision with the future (Future Shock - 1970).

A powerful tide is surging across much of the world today, creating a new, often bizarre, environment in which to work, play, marry, raise children or retire. In this bewildering context… businessmen swim against highly erratic economic currents, politicians see their ratings bob widely up and down, universities, hospitals and other institutions battle desperately against inflation. Value systems splinter and crash, while the lifeboats of family, church and state are hurled madly about. The proverbial man in the street says the world “has gone mad”, while experts points to all trends leading towards catastrophe (The Third Wave - 1980).

We collide with the future and changes do take place, whether we realize, acknowledge and/or accept it or not.

More than three decades has passed since Toffler wrote his best-seller, “Future Shock” and more than two decades since his follow-up best-seller, “The Third Wave”. It is now the year 2018 and future shock, floating on the third wave, is already a scary reality that everyone of us lives with… and are confronted with each and every day. As individuals, our lives have become more and more complicated and our future an overwhelming pool of uncertainty and confusion.

As managers, we face increasing pressures and uncertainties. As employees, we are constantly confronted with change. As parents we find it increasingly difficult to assist and guide our children in these rapid changing times. As South Africans, we generally struggle with the notions of reform; with the idea that something bad must be replaced by something good; that old dispensations must give way to a new social order…. literally overnight.

Things are changing all around us, nationally as well as internationally. We are confronted with and must deal with today's stress and surprises, while we are planning for tomorrow. We have to deal with today's business demands effectively, even while we have to create a new and radically different kind of business for the future. We must sustain today's society even while reinventing it for tomorrow. It's a daunting task, BUT also one that we cannot postpone… because the future simply doesn't wait for any one of us.

The Challenge

The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in what a person believe and his/her subsequent determination.

It is difficult to live in the present, ridiculous to live in the future and impossible to live in the past.

NOW (i.e. the Power of Now and Seize the Moment) is the only time we have to think and plan for what is lying ahead. The past taught us lessons and provides us with plenty of experiences and wisdom, the future is uncertain and possibly quite different from what we are used to… and the present, the present is all that we have to work with.

There is not a moment to waste.

Many of the “solutions” hinge on a new socio-political system and one thing stand out above the rest. All institutions, organizations, business and each South African - and each inhabitant of this planet for that matter - has an important responsibility to……

  • remain viable, create wealth and generate jobs and opportunities for personal growth,
  • to sensitize people to the need for change and
  • to help others to learn and master new behaviours (action models) and thus bring about productive change.

This is not an idealistic, politically altruistic inspired thought. When we as South Africans are to survive the future, with just a semblance of our cultural persona intact, we must somehow preserve our present cultural values that are dear to all of us. All people - especially leaders - have a vital role to play in the future of this country. Demands made on us will grow; we will be called to deliver more and more - under increasingly strenuous and mentally exhausting conditions - as each year passes. The question is…

  • Are we ready for the responsibility?
  • Can we do it?
  • What can we do?
  • How will we do it?
  • What resources will we need?
  • Which strategy will be the best and most productive to follow?
Do you know why a car's WIND SHIELD is so large & the rear view mirror is so small? Because our PAST is not as important as our FUTURE. So, look ahead and move on.

There are no easy solutions for South Africa. There is a number of socio-political and educational-training models presently available that we can call on, without any certainty nor guarantee that they will work under present circumstances and within our particular context. Thus, we can learn from the experiences in other countries, BUT in essence… we all have to pull together and collectively invent our own future!

This is a mind-boggling challenge for each and every South African. It demands imagination, courage, perseverancePersistence, continued effort and determination in doing something, despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. , self-control, loyalty, respect for diversities and it demands “something different” rather than “more of the same”. It demands that we rethink and re-plan each aspect of our lives and reinvent (renew) our life's from start to finish and top to bottom.

An overwhelming challenge

Definitely, an impossible ideal, NO!

It implies that we have to return to the basics. The basics of strengthening the South African chain, by strengthening each individual link of that chain, through developing and initiating responsible and accountable Self-empowerment and/or Psyche Management drives.

Like a man on a high wire, we're all tempted to freeze in times of danger. We assume that when we stop we'll be safe. But in times of change, it is the worst thing to do. The only way in which a tightrope walker can maintain his/her balance - and survive - is by slowing down and gradually moving forward… cautiously!. He/she must progress. And so it is for every person, all companies, institutions, organizations and all nations. Turning back, in the face of change - as in the case of a tightrope walker - almost always has devastating consequences and not a very wise move to consider.

Typical Reaction

The essential components of Future Shock is….

  1. a future that is uncertain and
  2. a general struggle to cope with constant and rapid change.

We are all confronted with Future Shock, more often than we would care to admit. Normally we are of the opinion that we could handle almost everything… until one day that we unexpectedly discover the world has “suddenly” turned upside down, without us even being aware of all the changes taking place.


There are as many different reactions to future shock, as there are people experiencing it - however - there is a typical “unprepared-reaction” common to the majority of future shock confrontations, which can be illustrated as follows…

Reaction Description
An attentive, much dedicated and somewhat confused focus on a seemingly meaningless task at hand. There is a lack of real understanding, but an eager willingness to do as instructed (i.e. be responsible and do the right thing).
An unexpected and sudden confrontation, resulting in a momentous confused paralysis, trying to figure out what the %$@&@ is actually happening here or taking place.
PANIC sets in with lightning speed, accompanied by an inability to take any constructive or productive actions. The most logical action to take at this stage is making lots of noise, movement and frantic defensive behaviours (e.g. waving of hands in this case).
Must do something! First line of defense seem the most appropriate option… ATTACK! Thus, fight off the threat by trying to push it back into the screen.
When fighting seems to be totally ineffective, because the confrontation doesn't go away… FLIGHT seems to be the next best option to take.
Fleeing results in the seeking of immediate safety with what is a familiar and trusting source of security and comfort; or so we tend to think… because, quite often our source of comfort is responsible for this confrontation in the first place.
The eventual outcome of this incident… a nervous helpless, scared to death to deal with the incident and which requires plenty of support to digest and cope with the shock. Quite often the implication is ignored, because it really wasn't such a big deal, judge by its insignificant position on the stress barometer. (i.e. an excellent platform for launching the little jackal trap).


The above is a typical reaction from a person with an “unprepared mind”. When s/he is “suddenly” confronted with some form of unexpected future shock. Such a shock could be “coming” for weeks, months or even years and was probably “overlooked and ignored” due to his/her own naive stupidity. But, regardless the circumstances or context or reason, the result of future shock is always essentially the same… it can reduce anyone from a stronghold of confidence, to a pathetic heap of emotional ruble in a matter of seconds.

Tell Signs

Future shock impact on the human psyche!

Tell signs that the psyche of an individual is disturbed by future shock - varies greatly from individual to individual - but normally manifest as all kinds of depressions, anxiety, constant feeling of a looming doom, stress, aggression and rage. This isn't an uncommon modern day phenomenon, but sadly though, it increasingly are manifesting at a younger and younger age.

Unfortunately, these indicated conditions - nowadays - are merely treated by addressing the observable symptoms of future shock, and not dealing with the actual underlying and real fundamental obstacle of… an unpredictable, uncertain and confusing future as a result of the Newton's Cradle trap, created and sustained by cognitive biases, cognitive dissonances, dogmas and prevailing psyche wounds, often camouflageMainly as a result of the framing effect sourcing from the many cognitive biases we are clinging to, without even realizing it. as life scripts. All of which effectively destroys the Power of Now and Seizing the Moment, that is the only manner in which we can bring about a different or alternative future.

A Modern Day Chronic Illness

The modern world has plenty advantages and many technologies that makes life - when compared with previous generations - a much better place in many ways. However, despite materialistic and physical advantages or gains, the human race - generally speaking - is currently suffering psychically, mentally and spiritually much more than ever before, and the new “normal” of modern society is high levels of anxietyAnxiety - supported by the Newton's Cradle effect - is the result of confusion, uncertainty and plenty of fears about the future. and low levels of depressionNoticeable and supported by generally accessible medication statistics, which indicates that the use of anti-depression/stress medications are growing at an alarming rate and - also - are administered at a younger and younger age… even as young as 6 years old. Other worrying facts are the escalation of burnout at a younger and younger age and the imminent increase in ADHD-diagnoses, especially in younger children. which establish and maintain a modern day scarcity mind-setResulting from a wild horse dominated life style. and way of lifeWhich is characterized by a win-lose and conflicting toxic work ethics. that merely regards an abundant mind-setResulting from an Oryx dominated life style. and way of lifeWhich is characterized by a win-win contribution and emerging spontaneous networking. as a “perhaps-one-day-if-you-are-lucky” pipe dream, which effectively renders the power of now and seizing the moment virtually ineffective, sustain an active inner network of psyche wounds and plenty of resulting cognitive dissonances.

The main reasons for the above are that - collectively - we have lost equilibrium, are no longer in balance with our environment, all of creation and view the world around us out of context, which - in essence - are established and maintained by the following unquestioned dogmas deeply entrenched in our active, current and respective umwelt's

Meritocracy implies that everyone is free to make it, to become whatever one wishes and wants to be, unless… one isn't up-to standard, one doesn't have the talent or worse does not have the capacity and/or resources to make it. Under these failing conditions one gradually becomes a second grade citizen and complete failure in society's eyes. Thus, the sameness principle is applied out of context, which frequently results in “black-white” judgments of when we…

  • succeedMeeting the needs and requirements of a collectively predefined industrial-machine-technology curriculum and standard. we are valuable, but
  • failMeeting the criteria of uniqueness, individualization, customization and context. , we are useless, worth nothing and - most likely - are regarded as a burden to society.

Therefore, successCollectively defined as an optimal materialistic consumerism. is highly regarded in our modern society and failureManifesting a true and optimal self-actualization and -determination. is a damnation of losers by society, which essentially result in basic references of either being lucky (successful) or struck by tragedy (failure). In essence an individual's merit as a human being - regrettably - is determine by a fortunate combination of more luck in life than tragedy.

In modern times, there is a world wide tendency to regard some cultures, religions and groups of individuals as more worthy and better than others. This unfortunate way of stereotyping the worth of individuals according to the classification, group or culture that they belong too, frequently result in more harm, stress and pressure than doing any good. This culturetocracy happens on a global scaleThe so called first, second and third world economy and country classifications, where first world indicates success, second world represent some mediocre form of success and third world implies uselessness/worthlessness in modern day times. to a k-zillion religious grouping where one religion is regarded as more “correct and true” than the other and down to community or society levelWhich freely and liberally use groupings, categories and classifications that are based on gender, age, skin color, language, socioeconomic status, intelligence, …etc. .

Regardless the criteria applied - in essence - some individuals are judged as better than others …for example… first world countries are regarded as better and more successful than third world countries and an individual's worth is mainly determined by the group/class/category by which s/he is classified. The latter, in itself, is - more often than not - a major source of anxiety experienced by individuals in modern times.

Currently individualism - in essence - is an egocentric-consumer-narcissistic driven perception that source from “only I am responsible for my ultimate success” regardless the ways and means followed to obtain success in life. Everyone has a special destiny - often translated as success by consumption - and the community no longer matters, unless they can enhance personal consumption. Only me and I will achieve success, other people are in my way, blocking me from achieving success and should be manipulated or neutralized as quickly as possible by applying VIDSHE-principles effectively.

Meritocracy, culturetocracy and individualism firmly establish a widely and collectively accepted “I-am-the-center” of the universe and there is nothing bigger nor more important than me, and the purpose of every thing else on this planet (even the Divine or God) merely exists to support and/or favor me to be as successful as possible in my life time.

Each one of us has one special person out there that can make us completely happy, fulfilled and content. A kind of everlasting 'love-at-first-sight' idea, that works effortlessly and everything will be fine… for ever and ever. Sadly, sex is currently collectively promoted, as the main way to find this ultimate, illusional and illusive partner. The crucial and all important establishing and sustaining of relationships pales in comparison, because its all about immediate gratification and extended gratification is often regarded as a waste of valuable time and effort.

The media - and more recently also the social media - has immense prestige and believability, and we tend to unconditionally believe what we are exposed to on a daily basis, without paying it any second thought. Thus, our views, opinions and ideas on what is important or what should scare, outrage or worry us are determined by the frequency of information that we are “bombarded” with.

In conclusion… life should be perfect, happy, sane and content. There - always - should be no problems or any troubles, and things should go freakishly well, all the time… and, when that isn't the case, we are to blame for our own shortcomings. That firmly establish a personal PVC-view on life that are riddled with cognitive dissonances, because all of the aboveMeritocracy, Culturetocracy, Individualism, Secularism, Romanticism and The Media. have some value and merit at some point and time, but cannot be true simultaneously as it is usually preached.

Dealing with Future Shock

To successfully (i.e. productively) address and deal with Future Shock entails much more than just the taking of the necessary actions or steps in order to reestablish certaintyAnd by implication our future security and predictability as well. in our life's. It demands a mind shift and a subsequent perspective change to realize that a future no longer are solely depended on a future-ME, but requires a future-WE to deal with an uncertain and confusing future. To really understand the context and point of view of this approach, would require plenty of research and reading lots of literature. However, a TED-talk delivered by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks - How we can face the future without fear, together - provide a “nutshell” synopsis of why replacing a future-Me with a future-WE is much better philosophy (i.e. GPS) to adopt…

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  • Last modified: 18 September, 2018 @ 7:15pm
  • by Jan Viljoen