An award-winning author explores how the world works in our age of “continuous now”
Back in the 1970s, futurism was all the rage. But looking forward is becoming a thing of the past. According to Douglas Rushkoff, “presentism” is the new ethos of a society that’s always on, in real time, updating live. Guided by neither history nor long term goals, we navigate a sea of media that blend the past and future into a mash-up of instantaneous experience.
Rushkoff shows how this trend is both disorienting and exhilarating. Without linear narrative we get both the humiliations of reality TV and the associative brilliance of The Simpsons. With no time for long term investing, we invent dangerously compressed derivatives yet also revive sustainable local businesses. In politics, presentism drives both the Tea Party and the Occupy movement.
In many ways, this was the goal of digital technology—outsourcing our memory was supposed to free us up to focus on the present. But we are in danger of squandering this cognitive surplus on trivia. Rushkoff shows how we can instead ground ourselves in the reality of the present tense.