Are We Losing Sight of the Longer Term Because of Future Fatigue and Present Shock?
What is Present Shock and Future Fatigue and Why Experts are Worried?
Our technology driven and always on 24/7 world bombards us with a continuous stream of messages and other distractions, leaving us stressed and distracted.
Indeed, given the never ending updates from our apps and social media and other broadcasts on our Smartphones, it is easy to get lost and live in the moment.
In other words, the so-called Present Shock happens that manifests itself as a collective trend wherein all of us forget about the future and our past and the only thing that matters is here and now.
Moreover, who is interested in knowing about the future when there is an underlying sense of dread and fear about it?
As businesses think only about the Next Quarter and refrain from handing our forecasts for anytime more than a year, when political leaders unleash Twitter storms that keep us glued to our devices and behave in a manner that Blinds us to the Future and only focus on the Present, and when the cliche, Living a Day at a Time becomes popular, we can understand why many experts are worried about Future Fatigue and the onset of the Present Shock.
Reality Avoidance, Escape Mechanisms, and the Addictive Nature of Digital Devices
The point we are making is that in the present times, we have developed an extremely narrow and short term view and are forsaking the longer term thinking and the ability to plan for the future.
Moreover, as mentioned earlier, when the future is itself full of fear and uncertainty, it is human nature to indulge in Reality Avoidance and instead, drown in the Addictive comfort of our digital devices.
Please note the term Reality Avoidance as it signifies how instead of confronting our immediate and longer term problems, we seek to lose ourselves and Get High on Social Media other Escape Mechanisms.
Even our political and business leaders too seem to be doing this as is evident from the number of Tweets that President Trump sends or the Nonstop TV coverage that Prime Minister Modi revels in.
Moreover, even investors and equity market movers encourage Short Termism as they rewards firms for performing well in the most immediate quarter and punishing them when they seek to explain that they are taking Short Term Pain for a Better Future.
Indeed, what all these points indicate is that collectively, we seem to be lost in the Fog of the Present and much like what happens in Delhi every winter, we cannot see more than a few years into the future.
Does Human Optimism Trump Fear of the Future and Evolve with the Times?
Having said that, this obsession with the Present and the Fear about the Future making us live in the moment is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as we retain the ability to peer Longer once the Fog Lifts.
In other words, while some might decry Present Shock, it is also the case that Longer Term Thinking can be embedded into our present thinking. Indeed, technologies such as AI or Artificial Intelligence provide us with the God Like ability to Model the Future and come up with Scenarios on what is likely to happen in the years to come.
Therefore, harnessing such powers can be useful for anyone who looks Ahead. Moreover, there are many Spiritual Leaders, prominent among them being Buddhist Monks, who are advocating Mindfulness or Living in the Moment as a way to beat stress and overcome fatigue.
In addition, throughout history, humans have always been afraid of the future and hence, there is nothing novel or new about Future Fatigue.
More importantly, human optimism and the evolutionary impulse have always ensured that collectively, humankind has always found a way to evolve and thrive according to the challenges of the future.
Winners and Losers of These Trends and Erosion of Intellectual and Social capital
On the other hand, Present Shock and Future Fatigue hurt those who are marginalised and underprivileged more than they impact the Rich and the Middle Class.
The former have their investments and enterprises and the latter have been conditioned since childhood to save for the future.
This leaves those at the Bottom of the Income Pyramid without any Safety Net or Resources to fall back being impacted due to Present Shock and Future Fatigue.
Even in the world of business, it is only those firms that do not have Cash Reserves or Fixed Assets to fall back are the ones that are impacted when the Future Arrives. Moreover, Short Termism also means that Innovation and Creativity that need time to Incubate and Thrive reduce leading to loss of Intellectual Capital for society.
Added to this is the growing atomism and isolation of humans that leads to erosion of Social Capital.
Therefore, it is the case that Present Shock and Future Fatigue impact some more than the others and hence, our political and business leaders have to take responsibility of helping the affected.
Last, our obsession with technology also leads businesses to react and respond in Real Time, forgetting the consequences of such reactions on them.
It is easy and tempting to Tweet continuously in a Thoughtless manner and jeopardise the interests of the businesses and it is easy to post on Facebook without thinking through what that means and entails.
In short, we lose the Art of the Narrative and instead, express ourselves in 140 Characters or Less.
To conclude, Present Shock and Future Fatigue must worry anyone who is concerned about our world and spur them to act accordingly.
Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)
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