Future Shock by Alvin Toffler is centered on the topic of change and how the world continually evolves. HIs point is to create an argument about how society deals with changes. The prime question he asks is to what extent man copes with the changes associated with evolution? Toffler examines and analyzes the phenomenon of increasing and sweeping change and how man's familiarity with the past and seemingly unflinching grip becomes a considerable dilemma when new innovations, such as the development of computers, are birthed in society.
The first few chapters of Future Shock discuss change and its relative meaning to people. In essence, more or less that change means new roles and rules for people. Toffler states that "change sweeps through the highly industrialized countries with waves of ever accelerated speed and unprecedented impact. It spawns in its wake all sorts of curious social flora" (14). To his point, change is inevitable and inescapable. But Toffler makes the case that people abhor change, yet that is not necessarily the truth.
Sometimes change is good and positive and not the shock that Toffler observes. He notes that "the future invades the present at differing speeds" (19). While there is an inclination to wholeheartedly believe his perception of man's response to change, the future is the future and the present is the present. In other words, it appears that Toffler is relying on change and innovation theories to make the claim that change comes as a result of future trends. That change is governed by technological advances, agricultural innovations and economic spectacle. While it is probable that Toffler's futuristic ideals and predictions of society, which is the focus of Future Shock, are viable in their reasoning, Toffler only considers change coming as an effect of an alteration of the status quo. He does not consider that change comes all of the time, not solely on the basis of what he states to be the "acceleration of life" (31).
By the middle of the book, Toffler makes the claim that the society of the future is created on indulgence. People make changes only on the basis of their needs. Toffler adds that "pains are taken not to deprive the consumer of an existing psychological benefit. Thus, a large American food company proudly launched a labor-saving, add water only cake mix" (118). His point here is to generalize man's adaptability to change and that the only way manufacturers can get consumers to purchase their new products is if man sees that the product has a stimulating gratification. Of course, that is an untruth in that change does not always arrive in the vehicle of a new product as Toffler suggests, but it is often thrust upon man as he moves through life. Toffler additionally is making the claim that man will only accept change if there's an added benefit to that change hence the water only cake mix. The latter part of Future Shock finds Toffler examining how future society will deal with educational changes as well as technological advances. Toffler believes that man will be reactive to the change rather than proactive. Of course, that is not the case as some effects of change are not necessarily reactionary in that individuals can withhold their decision making or choice selection long enough to think about how the advancements will affect them.
Toffler’s Future Shock is an interesting illustration of how he saw change and his overall stance on how society would see change given the accelerated pace at which ideas and institutions evolve. While Toffler made some excellent points regarding man’s adaptability to change over the course of time, he miscalculates the fundamental elements of change in his belief that change only comes when it is thrust upon man – when change can come as a result of man wanting change.
Toffler, Alvin. Future Shock. New York, NY: Bantam, 1984. Print.