Alvin Toffler, Future Shock author, dies at 87

future-shock

“Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time,” according to Alvin Toffler, who died on June 27 at the age of 87. Toffler wrote a massively best selling book of the same called Future Shock, which made him a celebrity.

I saw Alvin Toffler at a Chin Chin Chinese restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood 20 years ago. I stared at him, slack jawed, until he finally said, “Yes, it’s me!” He seemed friendly, so I approached him and we talked for about 20 minutes. I was impressed with his energy level. I told him I was an editor at Wired magazine, and mentioned that we had just backed out of an IPO. “Sometimes, retreat is the smart thing to do,” he said.

Some Toffler quotes:

“You can use all the quantitative data you can get, but you still have to distrust it and use your own intelligence and judgment.”

“It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.”

“One of the definitions of sanity is the ability to tell real from unreal. Soon we’ll need a new definition.”

“Anyone nit-picking enough to write a letter of correction to an editor doubtless deserves the error that provoked it.”

“Technology feeds on itself. Technology makes more technology possible.”

“Science fiction is held in low regard as a branch of literature, and perhaps it deserves this critical contempt. But if we view it as a kind of sociology of the future, rather than as literature, science fiction has immense value as a mind-stretching force for the creation of the habit of anticipation. Our children should be studying Arthur C. Clarke, William Tenn, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Robert Sheckley, not because these writers can tell them about rocket ships and time machines but, more important, because they can lead young minds through an imaginative exploration of the jungle of political, social, psychological, and ethical issues that will confront these children as adults.”

He is survived by his wife, Heidi Toffler, who co-authored his post Future Shock books.

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