Listen to Alvin Toffler’s “Possibilities, Not Predictions” interview for NPR
Forty years ago, America was gripped by Future Shock. It was a book, published in July of 1970 — but it was also an idea.
It was the notion that life was changing faster and faster — in everything from technology to family structure to politics. People were moving more, throwing away their belongings sooner and having to adapt more often to new kinds of work.
The result was a kind of culture shock of the future — future shock.
The book was, in the publishing industry phrase of the time, a “runaway best-seller.” It sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S., and untold more millions overseas, especially in Asia. The author, Alvin Toffler, was a reporter-turned-futurist from New York. He says the scale of his book’s success came as a shock to him and his wife and collaborator, Heidi Toffler.
Alvin Toffler’s talks about the 40th anniversary of the book on the effect of rapid change holds insights into the present.