As a people we have lost a sense of narrative understanding of our times. We seem to live in chaos and the media constantly reports a stream of horrible events with no connection to them. As a result the world seems senseless and frightening. Younger people have lost a sense of history and their place in time:
That is an Adam Curtis interview about the use of stories in culture and how the telling of stories has changed overtime.
I saw this interview a year ago, but got to thinking about it today after reading a blog post by Charles Hugh Smith titled Present Shock and the Loss of History and Context.
In this post he reviews what sounds like an interesting book titled Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now.
In his new book, Rushkoff examines the telescoping of time and context wrought by ubiquitous digital technologies. We’re always accessible, always connected and every channel is always on; this overload affects not just our ability to process information but our culture and the way media and marketing are designed and delivered.
The title consciously plays off the influential 1970 book by Alvin Toffler, Future Shock, which posited that our innate ability to process change was limited even as the rate of change in our post-industrial world increased. That rate of change would soon overwhelm our capacity to process new inputs and adapt to them.
The internet is a great resource for finding information, but has not been a useful tool for increasing people’s understanding of the world and has not empowered people. You can see that in the stock market. Despite living through the crash of 2008 the masses have no understanding of why it happened and once again are piling into stocks with no game plan seemingly having learned nothing from their experiences. They live only in the here and now – and right now the market is going up so that is all that matters to them. CNBC reporters and the mainstream media cater to the Fed and Wall Street and never tried to expose the reasons for the crash or demand reforms. They demanded no change. They had no outrage and sit there as a new dangerous bubble in bonds forms in front of our eyes.
People have no understanding of the outside world and history. As Curtis explains TV news does not bring understanding and nor does 99% of what is on the internet. Much of it is simple rumor mongering. It takes deep reading, learning from experiences, and disconnecting from the confusing mass culture for periods of time to bring understanding and wisdom.
See Charles’s whole post here.