Future Shock: Economic Predictions Toffler Got Right 45 Years Ago



People are always concerned with what the future might have in store for them – both personally and on a global scale. This is why augurs, diviners, seers and fortune-tellers have managed to make a living for centuries, and they still do.

But there are other people who make predictions about the future of our lives, more informed predictions based on data and trends – they are called visionaries today, or maybe futurists, creating outlines for what our world will become decades from their time. And one of the most famous such visionary (or futurist) is Alvin Toffler, American author and futurists.

Some of his books would be really good reads if if wasn’t for the sometimes horrifying future he predicts. In his novel titled “War and Anti-War” he predicted the shift from mass military actions toward surgical strikes delivered from a distance – and today, two decades later, we have remote controlled drones taking out terrorists with ease (and without having to risk a human life). But his military predictions are not what I want to cover today, but his marketing and economical predictions, made in Future Shock, a book he wrote in 1970, which has been turned into a documentary later.

So, let’s begin with the beginning. “Future Shock”, the term coined by Toffler in his book, refers to the personal perception of “too much change in too short a period of time”. As our society shifts from being industrial to super-industrial, the accelerated rate of technological development is leaving people “future shocked” – with a feeling shattering stress and disorientation that overwhelms them. Some prefer to hide from it, move away from the outside world to experience the best online games at Royal Vegas hidden behind their walls and windows, but most of us are forced to live in our quickly shifting world day after day.

Toffler predicted that the rapid change in technology would profoundly change the way people would interact with each other. This rapid change is a disruptive force in society, leading to what Toffler called “high transience” – relationships lasting shorter periods of time, ideas being “used up” more quickly. The consumption habits of the people will also change, he predicted, moving toward disposable products designed to fulfill temporary needs instead of a more permanent solution, inevitably leading to renting pushing ahead, making ownership obsolete.

Toffler also predicted a new, nomadic movement of workers from emerging societies like Turkey and Algeria toward more developed ones in Europe. Part of this new, nomadic lifestyle will be triggered by the fact that industries constantly fall and emerge, and will cause marketers and traders to shift their targeting policies to deal with their transient targets. Stability and long term plans will decrease, giving way to more short term commitments when it comes to jobs, products, family and friends.

How many of Toffler’s predictions have come true in the last four and a half decades, and how many of them will still turn into reality in the following years? I’ll leave you to decide…

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