I've thought of an analogy, using popular culture, to explain with accuracy these current times. Many people incorrectly believe that they are in and, heaven forbid, actual "enlightened" participants in the End of Times. If you read the Bible you would realize that this is such a huge "duh" that there is no way that even a fraction of the tribulations that will fall on humanity are even beginning to come to pass. It's quite plain that people will know when the End of Times is coming because you'd have to be dead not to notice the scale, magnitude and severity of the testing of the faithful and the chastisement of living sinners.
However, I totally understand the rest of the people's honest concern that there are very disconcerting events taking place that call to mind the End of Times. That is the difference and that is God's intention. You are hearing "warning shots," urging people to repent and lead good lives, not to buckle down and be even more "bad" so you can "bring on" the End of Times. The End comes when God wills it, not according to your misplaced or genuinely fearful thoughts and imaginings.
So here is the analogy. Think of these times as "sampling" of the End of Times. Sampling is a musical term, most often used in rap music, when snippets of previously recorded songs or music is used to insert into new material. So these times are just like normal times have been historically except that people have fallen dreadfully away from the purity of faith in the one God as they have been contaminated by many false prophets and idols, both religious and secular. This is why Jesus mentions most particularly that there will be continual rumors and false prophets, but to believe neither.
However, unlike what deists and others "believe," God is an activist God. He allows humans to exercise their free will, including whether to believe in him or not, and thus be saved, or not. God will and does, as both the Bible and Qur'an explain, administer earthly chastisement on occasion. He does so when he feels that humans are bringing on their own heads not only the consequences of their own disobedience, but dragging the children and others down with them. God then, according to his own Wisdom and All Knowing, will administer chastisement, or simply allow self induced negative consequences (God dries up grace, will not respond to prayers, etc if he must harden his heart). In other words, where he might have intervened to help a situation, he lets the human choice self induced "chips fall where they may."
So you are right to be uneasy that this is a sort of prelude time, but it is wrong to assume that anything humanity has experienced is anything that will be like the genuine tribulations. Just read the Bible and stop whining that every tragedy sounds anything at all like the real thing. However, be aware that because of the many false prophets and many rumors, humanity is going through a hardening of the heart phase that is resulting in many chastisements, kind of a "mini" or "sampling" of the tribulations. That ought to make you want to repent and convert your hearts back to the one true God, purely, rather than continually defying him or, worse, asking for him to "bring it on" because "you'll be saved and raptured." Not so much.
Remember that Jesus himself stated that he does not know when the End of Times will come, and that only God knows. Who are you then to interpret any of the minor sufferings of humanity (compared to the actual tribulations) as being "that time," when Jesus himself did not know? Really now, get a grip and some humility.
However, you are alert to recognize that those who filled your ears with such stuff are fulfilling the two warning signs that Jesus did advise would occur beforehand, rumors and false prophets. Remember, humanity could very well go through centuries of rumors and false prophets. God does not work in humanity's idea of "soon."
I do not understand how people can just sit there and be eager for more misery and suffering. How is that exercising Christian charity of "love of neighbor," as Jesus ordered? When God smites and chastises, or allows a "sampling" of the tribulations, or allows humans to suffer the consequences of their own falls and bad decisions, why do you think he would want you to do even more of the same, rather than stop, ponder, repent and convert? I mean, "DUH." It's like some people think that if the "End of Times" is soon, then charity goes out the window and everyone "gets what they deserve." Amen, brother, but what they deserve will be severe judgment upon one's individual death, when one's life is over and oops, the End of Times did not occur, but you allowed festering rumor and false prophecy and evil and sins and missed opportunities to just roll along and pile up on the backs of others.
So yes, heed the times, as Jesus said, and pay attention to the signs, the signs of rumors and false prophets, but do not follow them, knuckleheads. When God chastises or allows sorrow or evil to befall, especially when it is human self inflicted, its because he wants you to CHANGE, repent and mend your ways and return to him, not keep beating a dead horse, mocking God, and disobeying him in any or all things.