Hypermodernity is a type, mode, or stage of society that reflects a deepening or intensification of modernity. Characteristics include a deep faith in humanity’s ability to understand, control, and manipulate every aspect of human experience. This typically is manifested in a forward-looking commitment to science and knowledge, particularly with regard to the convergence of technology and biology.
The emphasis on the value of new technology to overcome natural limitations lends itself to a diminution or outright repudiation of the past, since yesterday’s knowledge can be considered ‘less’ than today’s. There can be a profound lack of integration between the past and the present since: what happened necessarily took place under ‘lesser’ circumstances than now, which generates a fundamentally separate context; and artifacts from the past superabundantly clutter the cultural landscape and are seamlessly reused to generate an even greater superabundance from which individuals are unable to discern original intent or meaning.
Hypermodernity differs from Modernity in that it has even more commitment to reason and to an ability to improve individual choice and freedom. Modernity merely held out the hope of reasonable change while continuing to deal with a historical set of issues and concerns; hypermodernity posits that things are changing so quickly that history is not a reliable guide.
The positive changes of hypermodernity are supposedly witnessed through rapidly expanding wealth, better living standards, medical advances, and so forth. Individuals and cultures that benefit directly from these things can feel that they are pulling away from natural limits that have always constrained life on Earth. But the negative effects also can be seen as leading to a soulless homogeneity as well as to accelerated discrepancies between different classes and groups.
Postmodernity differs here in that it rejects the idea of ‘reasonable change’ while at the same time accepting that the past and its artifacts have as much value as the present. The value is primarily expressed through provisional constructs that have no lasting meaning; we cannot discern truth but we can play with the nonsense. Postmodernity is meant to describe a condition of total emergence from Modernity and its faith in progress and improvement in empowering the individual.
If distinguished from hypermodernity, supermodernity is a step beyond the ontological emptiness of postmodernism and relies upon a view of plausible truths. Where modernism focused upon the creation of great truths (or what Lyotard called ‘master narratives’ or ‘metanarratives’), postmodernity is intent upon their destruction (deconstruction).
In contrast supermodernity does not concern itself with the creation or identification of truth value. Instead, information that is useful is selected from the superabundant sources of new media. Postmodernity and deconstruction have made the creation of truths an impossible construction. Supermodernity acts amid the chatter and excess of signification in order to escape the nihilistic tautology of postmodernity. The Internet search and the construction of interconnected blogs are excellent metaphors for the action of the supermodern subject. Related authors are Terry Eagleton (‘After Theory’), and Marc Augé (‘Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity’).