Hyperculture: The Human Cost of Speed

Hyperculture: The Human Cost of Speed

Hyperculture: The Human Cost of Speed

Hyperculture: The Human Cost of Speed

Synopsis

The rampant illnesses of our society--including the disintegration of the family, the degradation of the environment, unlimited commercialism, and unrelenting stress--are familiar to us all. For the first time, author Stephen Bertman attempts to explain these disparate, overwhelmingly negative phenomena with a single, unifying principle: that the accelerated pace of American society is eroding the essence of our most fundamental values. In 1970, Alvin Toffler identified a psycho-biological disease he called "future shock" caused by "too much change in too short a time." Now Bertman daringly diagnoses an even more serious condition, "hyperculture," a chronic warping of morals and ethics caused by America's addiction to speed. The treatment, he argues in this book, will require nothing less than a drastic slowdown--we must reassert control over the technologies that now dominate us in order to insure a humane future for our children and ourselves.

Excerpt

Like a passengered spaceship traveling through the dimension of time, a family makes a wondrous voyage. To trace that voyage and see how it is affected by society's speed, we will need to study each stage in the human life cycle, exploring how the interrelationships among family members have been transformed by the power of now.

The family constitutes one of the most complex laboratories in which to study the action of time. This is true for three main reasons. First, and most fundamentally, a family is comprised of interacting individuals of different ages. Moreover, as family members grow older with the passage of time, they assume different roles--child, adolescent, single adult, spouse, parent, grandparent--some roles played out sequentially, others simultaneously, as aging advances. Furthermore, as each family constitutes a living entity in its own right, it is influenced by time not only in respect to its parts but also in terms of its totality, especially when it regenerates and helps to bring yet another family into being.

In designing space stations for long-term occupation in a weightless environment, scientists have proposed the creation of artificial gravity using mechanically generated centrifugal force. Such gravity would supply astronauts with the illusion of a familiar earth-like environment. in terms of our own experience, however, the very opposite has come to pass. the symbolic gravity that originally let families keep their feet on the ground has been replaced by a new, whirling social momentum. Instead of holding . . .

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