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The Big Answer


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Future Shock In The Present Tense

an article by Alvin Toffler

(our site's article review)

In this article, Alvin Toffler looks at future shock in 1996. Among other things, he examines the changing roles and structures of families over time. In the First Wave, there was a bigger structure (more people, including extended family, per household) and more functions (education, work, health care, childcare, eldercare, communication of news). In the Second Wave, family sizes shrink to the nuclear family size, women are supposed to be cooks, cleaners, wives, shoppers and mothers and leave the rest to others. The work, educational, health care, eldercare, and communications functions were ripped from the family—families are for consumption, procreation and psychological support. In the Third Wave, women work, nuclear families are only a small minority of existing families, while singles, childless couples, single parents, cohabitation, remarried, gay, mixed, and other lifestyles increase their presence.

In the Second Wave, family sizes shrink to the nuclear family size, women are supposed to be cooks, cleaners, wives, shoppers and mothers and leave the rest to others
In the Second Wave, family sizes shrink to the nuclear family size, women are supposed to be cooks, cleaners, wives, shoppers and mothers and leave the rest to others

Toffler wrote about the “electronic cottage” in 1980 but the established media dismissed the idea. (Actually, it was 1970 in Future Shock when he first predicted that “advanced technology and information systems [will] make it possible for much of the work of society to be done at home via computer telecommunication hookups . . .” See the Jobs section of relocation.)

Electronic cottage
Electronic cottage

Now that the idea has become a reality and most homes are “electronic cottages”, the media is full of articles discussing this new reality. Because of the phenomena of the electronic cottage and telecommuting, and the rise in home publishing, home broadcasting, home computer graphics, home programming and home word processing, it can be correctly asserted now that the functions that were once done at the office are now routinely done in millions of homes. (See working at home.) Office work is still in the majority, but in the future the hatred of commuting and the convenience of telecommuting may change even that. Shopping, banking, community (virtual), and even education is on the rise in homes. “. . . the home is becoming a more important place...”. As of 2011, about 34 million people work from their residence occasionally, reports Forrester Research, which predicts 63 million by 2016.

Also, Toffler says that “the reason we are having an information revolution is because higher social diversity requires the exchange of more and more information among the units of people or institutions in that society.”

This sheds some light on the chat rooms, virtual communities, online special interest groups, the growth of the World Wide Web, and even the growth in the mobile telephone and cable TV companies, but it also underlines why PSBs are important in MCs: Superficial social connectedness can be had at the dial of a phone or the activation of a computer for cyberspace connection to others. But meaningful, deep friendships require more than the exchange of gossip and the fleeting, transient, occasional acknowledgement of the existence of one’s friends and their interests. See Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?.

The unfortunate false-self-presentation tendency Facebook encourages
The unfortunate false-self-presentation tendency Facebook encourages

Friendship requires knowing another’s being, not his or her false self à la R. D. Laing. It requires connection with another’s essence, not his or her façade. It requires relationship commitment, not just convenient communications done in passing. It may be true that most Americans have redefined friendship to mean superficial acquaintance and gossip exchange, but that doesn’t change what it really is at its best. If your real being hides around a certain person, s/he isn’t a real friend. If, as is most likely, your real being hides around all your friends, then the fact is you are a person with no friends, who happens to know a few people. And if your real being hides around your family and even yourself, you are far from abnormal, but the sad truth is: you have no life, no spouse, no family and no real connections to humanity. You have an act, a game and a role—but no experience of being.

And if your real being hides around your family and even yourself, you are far from abnormal, but the sad truth is: you have no life, no spouse, no family and no real connections to humanity
And if your real being hides around your family and even yourself, you are far from abnormal, but the sad truth is: you have no life, no spouse, no family and no real connections to humanity

This is alienation, deadness, and pretense—but it is much more common than most of us conceive. PSBs are part of a toolkit for evolving from unreal to real, from dead to alive, from needing/acting to being, from disconnected to connected, from alone and lonely to in community and happy, and from fake to authentic. See The Adjusted American: Normal Neurosis in the Individual and Society.

Trapped-in-alienation people need to break their life's constant alienation process so they can take control over their lives
Trapped-in-alienation people need to break their life's constant alienation process so they can take control over their lives

Other tools in this multipurpose toolkit are science’s best known social, parenting, communication and meaningful connection tools: P.E.T. methods of communication and relationship, authoritative parenting, Winning Family Lifeskills, positive self-talk and sometimes (if needed) self-parenting, historically-validated flat-gradient nurturance lifestyle patterns to replace the failed steep-gradient nurturance experiment of the 20th century.

The failed steep-gradient nurturance experiment of the 20th century often looked like this
The failed steep-gradient nurturance experiment of the 20th century often looked like this

Also vital are MC guidelines, computer search technology to locate compatibles, and childcare/eldercare scheduling software. This is how Second Wave dysfunctionality is transformed into Third Wave functionality and thriving: the wise and diligent application of Third Wave knowledge and technology. See Why Register for an MC?

Registering for MC search and match
Registering for MC search and match

Toffler addresses the loneliness cited above. You really knew your neighbors in the old world, but you know little or nothing about them in the new world, he says. He sees the electronic expanded family as a partial solution for this because it will improve community and connectedness while it brings childcare under the family roof once again, and adds people to the average household. He warns especially about retaining human rights, restoring popular participation in political life, and using Third Wave tools to strengthen and reawaken democracy. See Who Will Tell The People?: The Betrayal Of American Democracy.

Neocon nutjobs tell us that dumping our Bill of Rights and our Constitution was a prerequisite for our safety, which no intelligent citizen could possibly buy
Neocon nutjobs tell us that dumping our Bill of Rights and our Constitution was a prerequisite for our safety, which no intelligent citizen could possibly buy