Life as Live-Stream
McNally Jackson Books (52 Prince St., Manhattan)
The future is a thing of the past. In his new book, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, award winning author and media analyst, Douglas Rushkoff, introduces the theory of “presentism,” the new ethos of a society that’s always on, in real time, updating live. Bereft of history and ungrounded by longer term goals, we spend every day navigating a sea of digital forms that collapse past and future into a mash-up of the immediate moment. How do we reconcile our digital selves with our physical brains and bodies? How do we keep up this fragmentation of our psyches? And how has “presentism” influenced popular culture, from reality TV shows to The Simpsons, and politics, from Occupy Wall Street to the formation of The Tea Party?
Where other theorists might decry or celebrate our slavish dependence on technology, Rushkoff explores the ways in which it can be both exhilarating and disorienting. He confronts those who fear the anti-narrative bent of our digital age, and embraces instead the reality of a narrative of the perpetual present tense.
Rushkoff will be joined in conversation by Rachel Rosenfelt, founder and editor of The New Inquiry.