Mr Rushkoff, your book ‘Present Shock’ is one of your signature books. I first heard the term ‘digiphrenia’ some years ago and then found out it was one of the terms you coined in this book. When did you first realize we need to put a name on this current state of existence?

I felt the need to create a name for this phenomenon in order to distinguish it from the idea of "information overload." People keep looking at the technology - the thing outside themselves - rather than the experience of being human amidst all the technology. I'm less concerned with information than I am with human awareness. And the experience of the net has less to do with information than with existence. We are trying to exist in more than one place, as more than one being, at the same time. There is more than one instance of myself, running in different places. The word "digiphrenia" helps people relate or nod along with that particular kind of craziness.

The internet is a relatively new phenomenon in terms of age but it has already made a dramatic impact on our lives. What were your initial expectations about it back in the 1990’s? What do we know now that we didn’t know back then?

My initial expectations in the early 1990s was for a profound upscaling of human experience. I thought we would come to understand ourselves as part of a big, collective brain. What we didn't know - we couldn't have - is that commercial and business forces would overtake the net. Back in the 90's, it was against the rules to conduct business online. It was a safe haven. You had to sign an agreement promising not to do anything online but research. AT&T was offered the internet for free, and they said they didn't want it. That's how non-commercial it was.

So when you take a super powerful technology, and then turn it over to the companies who mean to extract money and value from people by any means necessary, with no regard for the survival of the species, what can you expect?

‘Present Shock’ was first published in 2012 and it still sounds extremely relevant to our reality today. Are we becoming more comfortable with living in the eternal present?

Well, in the US we are dealing with the Donald Trump phenomenon. And that is a present shock assault. People are losing all sense of continuity. They forget the terrible thing he did yesterday, because he does another terrible thing today. It's like living in a weird prison camp or psychological torture experiment. This is much worse present shock than I was describing in the book - though it operates the same way.

So while the book was concerned mostly with the way the digital media environment collapsed time, now this collapse is happening everywhere. So the book really did explain the moment we are in right now. It would have been impossible to write it at this moment, because we are too far gone. But that book was written in the last moment where we could have chosen something else.

We live in the teenage years of the XXI century. What are your impressions of the young people growing up right now? Is it easy to be a millennial?

Well, millennials are all in the 20s and 30s. It's not so hard for them. The teenagers, gosh, they have it hard because everyone older than them is saying the world is ending. They are used to the idea of getting shot in school. They think of Donald Trump as president of the United States. My impression is that they understand their elders really didn't care about them. They have very little respect for us. I don't know if they believe they can do better at this point. But they certainly don’t think we did a good job.

I don't know how easy or hard it is to be a young person, now. They've got smartphones, which makes life much much harder. It's so hard for them to find coherence, when there's a multi-trillion-dollar industry trying to control them through those little screens. But they are doing their best. I still have hope for them.

Are we already in a tug-of-war between humans and technologies? Who is setting the pace? Are humans going to stay on top of this game?

Neither humans nor technologies are the ones in charge. It's the market forces that are in charge. Everything and everyone else is just fodder for capitalism. If we humans and our machines choose the value system of capitalism as the one we want to live by, then the machines will surely become our masters shortly. Digital machines are better at extracting value from humans than humans are at extracting value from machines.

In a recent publication on you say that the super rich are planning to leave us behind. Are they more informed than the rest of us or just more paranoid?

They just have enough money to hedge their best. Let's say you're a billionaire and you believe there's a 10% chance of the world ending in your lifetime. You may as well put 10% of your money toward that probability. So it looks like a lot of money to us when a billionaire puts a billion dollars into a shelter facility. But to him, it's just 10%. A hedge.

Is capitalism going to be the dominating ideology of XXI century? In your latest book ‘Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus’ you have some interesting theories about the nature of growth in capitalism.

I don't know if it's the dominant ideology. I think it's embedded in the landscape, itself. People don't understand capitalism, exactly. They just assume there are certain rules about making money - like the idea that companies have to grow in order to survive. That's a product of a certain kind of capitalism - a system that favors the money lenders and already wealthy - but is not the only way of doing business or promoting prosperity. 

The internet is more and more being used as a political tool. What we call ‘fake news’ now is what we used to call ‘propaganda’ in the XX century. Who is winning on the virtual battlefield?

Right now, the dictators are winning. They like confusion. They like when people's memory doesn't work well. They want us to believe in false myths about the past, and to believe the conspiracy theories. They like people in a state of digiphrenia. They probably read this book.

What are you currently working on?

I'm working on a podcast called Team Human. Everyone can listen at or through whatever podcast app they use. I'm also finishing a manifesto called Team Human. Really it's a follow-up to Present Shock, telling people how to retrieve their humanity.

‘Present Shock’ is your second book in Bulgarian. It is a bit of a tradition now to ask our authors what they know about Bulgaria? Thank you very much for your time!

Honestly, I don't know much about Bulgaria. I knew two different Bulgarian women, who were among the most brilliant I have ever met. They make me want to visit. My family is original from Galatz, in Romania, which is not too far. We got kicked out, but I'd like to see it someday.