Future Shock Book Summary, by Alvin Toffler

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1-Page Summary of Future Shock

1. Society is experiencing too much change too soon.

The author calls the feeling of being overwhelmed by change “Future Shock” and explores how to make the best out of it. He first published his book in 1970, when most people didn’t know that many familiar forms of commerce, discourse and technology would soon vanish.

Toffler established a new aspirational social norm by advocating for people to embrace change. He made predictions that sounded crazy at the time, such as the advent of the World Wide Web. However, his abstract examples turned out to be quite accurate descriptions of some of the cataclysmic changes brought about by Internet technology.

2. To deal with change, you must be adaptable.

Since Toffler’s book was written before the younger generation started demanding change in the 1970s, his support for change is unusual. The older generation at that time were against change and took reactionary positions. He advised them to be adaptable as this would help them deal with coming waves of changes. This shows his foresight as it’s now commonplace to hear people who are successful in Silicon Valley or other places say that “change is the new status quo.” Toffler prepared readers for a future where things will never be static and they should embrace it rather than try to fight it. He also wisely says that since we can’t predict everything perfectly, we shouldn’t worry about being right all the time but instead focus on being imaginative and insightful so we can make better decisions going forward

2. Expect to work in a “free-form world” of “kinetic organizations.”

While Alvin Toffler was not a visionary, he did discuss the future of work and society in his book “The Third Wave”. He predicted that technology would make it possible for people to work together regardless of where they are. In this way, their roles will shift and change constantly. Communication will be constant over many different media platforms. Overall, people must accept an unprecedented level of fluidity in their lives.

3. You’ll need to balance actual and vicarious experiences.

Toffler’s predictions might make you wonder how he could have possibly been so accurate. He asks a question that didn’t seem important until recently, but now dominates conversations about social media and identity. Toffler says we should balance vicarious experiences with real-life experiences. We should pay others for things like entertainment, while doing things ourselves as much as possible.

It’s amusing to read Toffler’s descriptions of three-network TV, pre-gigaplex movie theaters and the pre-Internet world of 1970. However, his points about finding a balance between personal and received experience are even more on target today. He poses a fundamental unanswered question that has grown only more relevant since he asked it. He wonders whether children who are subjected to an overwhelming, nonstop avalanche of information may become intellectually and socially precocious. This describes today’s work world precisely as children raised with the Internet now create and run major businesses.

4. Advanced technology will lead to product variety.

In the future, consumers will be faced with an abundance of choice. People want to stand out and express their individuality. They are no longer satisfied with mass-produced products that don’t fit them specifically. The market is segmented into many different types of customers who all have unique tastes and desires. Technology has advanced so much that it’s possible for businesses to produce customized goods for each customer without losing efficiency or cost effectiveness in production.

Future Shock Book Summary, by Alvin Toffler