Future Shocked

For even when they are otherwise identical, there are likely to be marked psychological differences between one product and another. Advertisers strive to stamp each product with its own distinct image. These images are functional: they fill a need on the part of the consumer. The need is psychological, however, rather than utilitarian in the ordinary sense. Thus we find that the term “quality” increasingly refers to the ambience, the status associations—in effect, the psychological connotations of the product.

As more and more of the basic materials needs of the consumer are met, it is strongly predictable that even more economic energy will be directed at meeting the consumer’s subtle, varied and quite personal needs for beauty, prestige, individuation, and sensory delight. The manufacturing sector will channel ever greater resources into the conscious design of psychological distinctions and gratifications. The psychic component of goods production will assume increasing importance.

Alvin Toffler, “Future Shock”, 1970 (pp. 223–224)

By Daniel J. Wilson

I am a designer, drummer, and photographer in Brooklyn, NY.

1 reply on “Future Shocked”

I still haven’t read Toffler’s book(s), but I have read John Brunner’s “triptych” which parallels many of Toffler’s ideas (and was inspired by them): Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up and The Shockwave Rider. Yes, they are science-fiction books but it’s amazing to see that, while written at the beginning of the 70’s, they are far from outdated and, in many instances, scarily modern.

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