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The more things change

Our changing world

As a Gen-X-er, growing up in the 70s and 80s, I took TV for granted. I remember listening to my parents’ stories of when they first got TV, thinking how miraculous it must have seemed. And I remember taking for granted the concept that there’d be new inventions for us.

Changes came relatively slowly at first. We didn’t get colour TV till the end of 1979. And then somewhere in the mid 80s we got a VCR and a hand-me-down Commodore 64 computer with a cassette drive. By the early to mid 90s mobile phone bricks appeared. Then came email and the Internet.

And from there the changes multiplied exponentially and raced on towards the digital world we now inhabit, comfortable with syncing our live across multiple devices and developing friendships across the world via social media.

So it seems we as individuals and society deal very successfully with all this technological change. True some of us may need to make an appointment at the Apple store to help us get the hang of our new devices, but fear of change doesn’t seem to stop us buying said devices.

Somehow acquiring another status symbol overrides the fear of change that seems to block us in other areas of our lives.

Even when change is good, even when we will be healthier, better off financially, happier at the end of the change process – somehow that fear of letting go and going beyond our boundaries stops us from getting started.

So what can we learn from the way we embrace technological change that can help us successfully make other changes in our lives?

Embracing change

There’s a number of change attitudes we have to technology that can help us make changes like eating healthier food, exercising more, finding a better paying job or anything else you’d like to do to help you achieve your dreams or your personal best.

  1. Have inbuilt readiness for change: With technology we have been trained that what we have now will be superseded pretty soon. No sooner do we get a new toy than we are bombarded with rumours about the next model. When is the iPhone 5S coming out? We know change is coming and we are psychologically prepared for it.
  2. Don’t over-invest in the status quo: Because we know change is coming, we are preparing for it from the first day we acquire our new toys. We know there is built in obsolescence and don’t over-invest in the status quo. We know within 2 years maximum we’ll have a new phone and it will be better than what we have now in yet to be invented ways. The pain of learning a new system will be worth it.
  3. Focus on the goal: We assume that the next model will, by definition, be better. Sure there are some ideas that don’t work out (think Windows Vista) but overall we are on a forward thinking, upward moving path. Change will make things easier, sleeker, lighter, sexier and will be worth it. We keep our eyes on the goal and the process of change is subservient to that.
  4. Keep it fun: Learning a new phone, computer, whatever is fun. Yes it can be frustrating at times (especially transitioning from Windows to Mac), but it’s a great sense of achievement to master. And it’s pretty cool really inserting an appointment on one device and being able to access it on another. It’s fun learning gestures, adding effects to photos, and meeting new people in South Carolina (for instance).
  5. Connect with others: We do these things and evolve with technology use as a community. We have a peer group of changers around us. There is always someone who has had the exact issue you are dealing with and can help. We can find people in the twittersphere to help. We are in this together.
  6. Don’t look back: No matter how tricky the new phone is, there’s no temptation to whip the SIM card out and put it back in the old phone. We preserver and we learn. New things are by and large here to stay. Relapse to a previous stage is kind of out the question.

So I think the challenge is to use these attitudes when we want to make positive changes in our lives, or help others changes.

And I think that when we do this, the more things change…the more we’ll be able to make of them.

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2 Comments

  1. Oliver Colman

    In the 70’s the American Futurist, Alvin Toffler wrote a book called “future Shock” . it was premised on the assumption that rapid change is disorientating, in the same way that “culture shock” or sensory overload causes the orienting reflex to activate . In a world where novelty, diversity and transience are commonplace, we need to be grounded in values which are permanent and rock solid, in a sense the antidote to future shock!

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