Words That Hurt
No one can deny that Americans are changing their environment with fantastic rapidity. The implications of these changes defy even the best scholars. Only one thing seems certain: Wherever we are going, we are going with great speed. In the past century the speed of communication has increased by a factor of 107, the speed of travel by 102, the speed of data handling by 106, energy resources by 103, power of weapons by 106, and the ability to control diseases by 102. We are a nation of mobicentric people. Our lives are centered on motion--arriving, doing, and becoming. One out of every five Americans changes his or her residence every year. The implication is clear: To adjust to this new form of existence, people have to learn to develop relationships quickly. Along with mobility comes the challenge to find a few people with whom we can be intimate ( Jennings, 1970).
There are four basic sources in our society for change: technology, diffusion, structural developments, and the relationship of the United States to the rest of the world. The basic technological changes are likely to grow out of new biomedical engineering, the computer, and better utilization of human resources. Diffusion of goods and privileges in society can do much to equalize health, education, and welfare opportunities for all people. Structural developments--especially in politics, education, and industry-- have already moved us into a postindustrial society. The newness of scientific breakthroughs is seen in the following statistics: