Does Change Frighten You?

Have you noticed how some people either don’t like change or are frightened by it. I suppose it has always been like this. Gutenberg’s printing press was seen as a real threat to many, especially those in the establishment of the time. At the time of the Industrial Revolution we had people going around smashing machinery. They said it was evil whereas the truth probably was that they were scared of what it would do to the status quo. Things are no different today and we have many people bemoaning the rise of the Internet, mobile phones, social networking and much more. It’s as if those who persist along this path are doomed to live in a frighteningly terrifying world of the future.

This fear of the future is often spread by people who have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are or by people who are literally scared of change, who like things as they are. If it were left to them we would still be living in caves and hunting mammoth. I remember, many years ago, reading a book by Tom Peters where he said that we should do away with the old saying, “If it ain’t broke leave it well alone.” and change it to, “If it ain’t broke BREAK IT!”

Socrates once said, “It destroys memory and weakens the mind, relieving it of work that makes it strong. It is an inhuman thing.” The ‘it’ that he was talking about was writing. In his day the art was in storytelling and being able to keep things in your head to be able to recount them. I wonder what he would have made of blogging? But more recently Susan Greenfield the neuroscientist, talking about social networking, has been quoted as saying, “My fear is that these technologies are infantilizing the brain into the state of small children who are attracted to buzzing noises and bright lights, who have a small attention span and who live for the moment.”

The technology that surround us and the uses it can be put to are changing day by day. In fact the pace of this change alone can be quite frightening. But we need to grasp the moment and discover how we best use these new ideas. I think that what we need to do is not to compare what we had before or think about how this might help us to do particular tasks differently but rather to imagine what new ideas are going to emerge from having these technologies available to us. In my humble opinion I think that Susan Greenfield is wrong – if you watch young children with iPads or an iPod Touch or watch them coming to grips with the intricacies of the latest game they are absorbed, their attention span is great as they problem solve and experiment. How these youngsters use and develop these new technologies is going to be the answer to how they, in the future, begin to solve some of the problems that we have created in the world.

The ‘experts’ have a habit of looking into the future and getting it wrong. In 1927 HM Warner of Warner Bros. said, “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” Ken Olsen, Chairman & Founder of Digital equipment Corporation said, “There is no reason why anyone would want to have a computer in their home.” and Decca Recording Company when rejecting The Beatles said, “We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out.”

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About Mike

Now that I'm retired I have more time to devote to writing my blog and creating short stories.
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4 Responses to Does Change Frighten You?

  1. penpusherpen says:

    I think some of us humans, (me being one of them) get into ruts (plural!) … and as soon as we’re used to something the thought of ‘change’ gives us a ‘anti’ feeling straight away. It takes something mighty miraculous to be accepted without umm-ing and ahhh-ing, take my Mobile phone…(not literally please!! just figuratively!! ) for years I held off having one, saying what’s the point? What’s so important and urgent that I need to contact someone on the move? and what’s all this texting about? There’ll never come a day when I do it. (hah!!) Why can’t whatever needs to be said wait ’til I get to a land-line… but now? oh boy,… wouldn’t be without mine.. (so give it back!!) although texting is not my favourite sport, I argue with the predictive side of it all the time…BUT saying that, I still do it!!
    The times they are a-changing, and good thing too, it keeps us on our toes… xPenx

    • Mike says:

      The trouble is that we don’t always realise when we are in the rut! I’ve just spent the day with five ex-colleagues talking about technology and learning. Each of us took along our brand new iPads and then for most of the time 5 out of the 6 of us took notes using paper and pencil!!
      Some habits die hard.

  2. Trevor says:

    I’ve thought long and hard about my reply after first reading this because deep down I hate change yet once it is forced upon me I tend to embrace it almost willingly.

    So much of my life has changed recently, I’ve kicked and screamed most of the way (not a pretty sight) but now that I’m actually living with the changes I’m quietly very content. Perhaps more content than I have been in years.

    Saying all that, I’ve always embraced change in technology. I had my first PC in 1992, Built the next two myself, now I run a cheap old Dell but it does what I need it to. Same with mobile phones, I had one of those brick affairs when they mobiles first came out (50p a minute if you could get a signal). The sort you need a trolley with if you intended on carrying around all day. Thing is it would only hold two hours charge, then it needed eight hours recharge! I’m so happy with my Blackberry that at the moment I don’t envision changing it but I bet I do when I can next afford a new one 😉

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for dropping by Trevor.
      Like you I’ve always relished technological change and wow we’ve seen some over the years. I remember, as a Deputy Head working in a primary school in the early 1980’s, when the government gave every school a BBC Computer. As the only man on the staff I was given the job of unpacking it and setting it up while the rest of the staff watched on from a safe distance! The programmes for this computer were extremely basic and came on cassette tapes and were loaded onto the computer, very slowly and noisily, from a tape recorder. And they say that those were the good old days!
      Nowadays I play around with my iPad and, accept as normal, all the great things it can do. I even have a moan sometimes because it is slow, ie. it’s not always an instant response, which we have come to expect nowadays. We have travelled such a long way in 30 years – where will we be 30 years from now?

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