And all is always now
By now, you've probably heard people call themselves "slaves" to their phones or their computers. We all know what that means — but why are we allowing ourselves to be slaves to the very instruments of technology we've created? Douglas Rushkoff, who spends his days thinking, writing and teaching about media culture, says it's time for people to stop chasing every ping and start using technology in a way that makes us feel more free. NPR.org today discusses "Rushkoff's latest work is called Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. He joined NPR's Audie Cornish to talk about the book. "Most simply, 'present shock' is the human response to living in a world that's always on real time and simultaneous. You know, in some ways it's the impact of living in a digital environment, and in other ways it's just really what happens when you stop leaning so forward to the millennium and you finally arrive there. "In my life, it's sort of the experience of being on Facebook and seeing everyone from my past suddenly back in my present. And the inability to distinguish between who may have been friends of mine in second grade, and people who I've met just yesterday, and people who are actually significant relationships. That collapse of my whole life into one moment, where every ping, every vibration of my phone might just pull me out of whatever it is I'm doing, into something else that seems somehow more pressing on the moment." Douglas Rushkoff founded the Narrative Lab at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, and lectures about media, art, society and change at conferences and universities around the world. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.
" 'Digiphrenia' is really the experience of trying to exist in more than one incarnation of yourself at the same time. There's your Twitter profile, there's your Facebook profile, there's your email inbox. And all of these sort of multiple instances of you are operating simultaneously and in parallel. And that's not a really comfortable position for most human beings.It's interesting — I was at Disney World and I saw this little girl who was looking at one of those signs that said, like, 'Forty minutes until you get on this ride,' and she looked up to her dad, and she said, 'What's a minute?' And I thought that, you know, in the industrial age, and in analog clocks, a minute is some portion of an hour, which is some portion of a day. In the digital age, a minute is just a number. It's just 3:23. It's almost this absolute duration that doesn't have a connection to where the sun is or where our day is. It's this very abstracted way of experiencing time. And what I'm arguing in Present Shock is that that timelessness is very characteristic of living in the digital age, in the age that we're in. And it's very hard for us to orient ourselves, to look forward to things, to join movements with goals, to invest in the future, to think about our long-term careers. We're just kind of in this moment of pause."