The Future of...Shock: How Shock Got a Bad Name and Why We Should Look Forward to More

Over the last 20 years, shock has gotten a bad name. The 2003 Iraq War began with misguided pronouncements of ‘Shock and Awe’. In 2007, Canadian author and social activist Naomi Klein released her book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Klein described the brutal tactic of using the public’s disorientation following a collective shock – wars, terrorist attacks, market crashes or natural disasters – to push through radical pro-corporate measures, often called “shock therapy”. 

Since 2007, Klein has noted how further financial crises and the election of Donald Trump have led to continued use of shock tactics, with Trump seizing on an atmosphere of constant crisis and fomenting chaos.

For many, last year arguably provided the biggest series of global shocks yet, and it has become a comic refrain to say ‘it can’t get any worse than 2020’. Indeed, Oxford Dictionaries expanded its word of the year award to encompass several "Words of an Unprecedented Year" including bushfires, WFH, lockdown and furlough.

To cap it all, shock has even been turned into a business model. NPR recently singled out US show Daily Wire’s host Ben Shapiro as king of mock shock in an article titled ‘Outrage As A Business Model: How Ben Shapiro Is Using Facebook To Build An Empire.’ 

Shapiro gets more ‘likes, shares and comments on Facebook than any other news publisher by a wide margin’ thanks to article headlines such as "BOOK REVIEW: Proof That Wokeness Is Projection By Nervous, Racist White Women Who Can't Talk To Minorities Without Elaborate Codes". 

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