Future shock is a term that was first quoted by futurist Alvin Toffler in a book of the same name. The word is used to describe a psychological phenomenon in which people are negatively affected by the rapid rate at which the world is changing. With technology developing at an exponentially increasing rate, and with brave new sciences and research cropping up all the time, it’s easy to feel lost amidst the relentless march of progress and even to be somewhat scared and even alienated by it.
In a world of iPhones, tablets, smart TVs, 3D and ‘Google Glasses’ this is a term that’s more relevant than it probably ever has been, so what do you do if you feel you are suffering from future shock and how can you bring yourself screaming back into the modern era?
One thing that can help is to attend classes designed to help get you up to speed. There are classes aimed at pretty much every level and pretty much every type of gadget, so whether you just want to brush up on your word processing, or you need to completely learn everything from scratch, you should be able to find a class with helpful teachers and like-minded people.
Not everyone is cut out for classes though, so if you’re more of an introvert you may prefer to simply try reading up on your chosen subject and you should find there’s a lot of information out there. Likewise if you’re worried about sci-fi apocalypses, reading more about the technology being introduced and about how it’s actually there to help us create a better future is a great way to intellectualise those concerns. Often future shock is about fear of the unknown – so once you understand the science it can be a lot less terrifying.
Ask a Friend
Another useful thing to do is to try asking a friend to show you how to get on with a lot of the new technology that’s out there. This is less daunting than going to a class where you will be learning in front of lots of other people, and it’s easier because the person instructing you will have a better idea of the way your mind works and how to communicate with you. We all have a ‘techy’ friend, so find yours and ask them for some help.
Jump In There
Asking friends to help is one way to learn the basics, as is reading and going to classes. However nothing will really compare to actually having a go yourself, and once you’ve started tinkering with technology you’ll tend to find it’s not really that bad – particularly if you start with beginner-friendly devices and there are many gadgets around today that are highly intuitive. For instance, if you don’t feel ready to start with Windows or Linux, you might find that using an iPad is much more user friendly thanks to the large touch sensitive icons, the clear and crisp images and the small number of options. Once you then start toying around with the device you’ll find you start to gradually get more adventurous and feel more proficient and that many of the skills you learn with that one device are then transferrable to other devices. This is the same as VCRs and any other device – if you constantly ask others to help you then you will never be forced to develop the skills yourself. On the other hand, spend a few moments wrestling with the remote yourself and over time it will become intuitive.
If you’re looking to learn something a bit more complex than just how to surf the web and write e-mails, you may want to tinker with a device designed for teaching coding and other basic skills. The Raspberry Pi is just such a device – a small computer with no display, power supply or anything else that costs just $30. See if you can get it working and try developing some of the online projects!
CBT stands for cognitive behavioural therapy, and is one of the most popular forms of treatment in psychology at the moment. CBT involves basically using a range of exercises to try and change negative thoughts which result in phobias and anxieties. This is accomplished using exposure, positive affirmations and keeping diaries of your thoughts, so in this instance you might want to use it to convince yourself that the future really isn’t anything to be afraid of. For example, you might do this by telling yourself that you’re not going to completely ruin your device – the worst that will happen is that it will crash and someone will come round to fix it. Likewise you can challenge any specific fears you may have with regards to specific changes or developments.