Douglas Rushkoff says we’ve made bad choices with our technology, and it’s changing us as people

From The New York Times:

Douglas Rushkoff hurts the way only a onetime true believer can hurt. Before he taught at New York University and the New School, he was an early fan of the Internet. “I was a slacker, and it seemed like a way to slack,” he says. “We’d all work when we felt like it.” Instead of a contemplative paradise, however, the marriage of networked technology and capitalism tortures our consciousness with an incessant, demanding present. “We’ve attached ourselves to it,” he says; “We respond to things when it wants us to, which is all the time.”

Mr. Rushkoff is the author of “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now,” a book that examines what it means to live in a world of incessant communication, multiple identities and a nearly apocalyptic sense of powerlessness in the face of global electronic connectivity. The book’s title is a play on that of Alvin Toffler’s 1970 landmark “Future Shock,” which posited that someday change would outpace our contemporary ability to adapt. Now, Mr. Rushkoff says, the acceleration of change is asymptotic, and the idea of adapting to achieve anything like tranquil thought is a receding speck in the rear-view mirror.

Q. You say we have “a new relationship with time.” What is it, and why is that a bad thing?

A. What we’ve done has made time even more dense. On Facebook, your past comes into your present when someone from your second grade class suddenly pops up to send you a message, and your future is being manipulated by what Facebook knows to put in front of you next. Present shock interrupts our normal social flow. It didn’t have to be this way. When digital culture first came along, it was supposed to create more time, by allowing us to shift time around. Somehow instead we’ve strapped devices to ourselves that ping us all the time.

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