‘The Times They Are A’-Changin’ Fast–But Why Do We Fear Change?
I get it. Watching the world around us and perusing the daily headlines can make life seem like the twilight zone at times. Have you ever felt that way? It can feel like we're in a movie. No matter what one's feelings on the news headlines and what's going on in the world, for many of us it seems clear that the world has changed. It has changed in many good ways and in some ways that may be uncomfortable for some. It even feels inevitable that more change is coming--rolling in like a storm that seems perpetually on the horizon.
Change comes in many forms. It could be anything from new technologies to cultural shifts to the way humans interact on a daily basis. Initially, one may wonder what happened to the world I knew? That can be disconcerting.
To be clear. I don’t personally oppose change, generally speaking. I believe almost every rolling cloud of change has its proverbial silver lining. It would be difficult to ignore that as Dylan said, “The times they are a’ changin.” But what it is about change that causes many of us to feel fear?
It's a natural human tendency to be nervous about the unknown. It's wired into our brains from many, many years ago. It's what kept us away from the tall grasses when we weren't sure if that rustle in the bush was coming from an animal that may want to have us for dinner. At the same time, this wiring can cause us to react emotionally at a level that can be alarming. Unfortunately, this can cause us not to respond in the wisest ways nor to think clearly before making decisions or judgments about an issue--whatever it may be. Read more about what scientists have to say about that here.
It's good to remember that many of the potential changes that alarmed us in the past turned out to be some of the best things we celebrate today. Examples? Trains. Yeah. Believe it or not, the Tech Radar website shares that "when the Stockton-Darlington Railway opened in 1825, people feared the worst: the human body, surely, wasn't made to travel at incredible speeds of 30 miles per hour. People genuinely believed that going that quickly would kill you in gruesome ways, such as your body melting." Um, wow. (Emphasis mine.)
Other examples include electricity and telephones. Can you imagine where'd we be today without those? Well, not nearly as far along as we are, that's for sure. Check out the rest on that list here.
So now, here we are in what will be become our own History. This is our chapter. The changes of our era that seem so unsettling now may very well seem quite normal and/or necessary 20-30 years from now. Understandably though, when you're in the middle of it, it's more challenging to keep an objective perspective. I get that, too.
Change is always a bit scary, and none of us know exactly how this next chapter unfolds and what new technologies will become old-school a few decades from now. That's not to say we shouldn't keep our eyes open and be aware of the new technologies and cultural changes around us. Yet, we can choose to be cautiously optimistic and engaged in our culture. We might be surprised.
Yes, there have been changes throughout history that have been bad ideas, unjust, or destructive. There were times then and will continue to be times when we as citizens and humans on this planet will have to right some of the wrong changes that have been made. But that too, is change.
The one thing we can be sure will never change? The fact that everything does--including you and me. I wasn't always this comfortable with change. Over the years I've learned to "surf the wave," if you will. Oh, and a big help is always getting the full story before jumping to conclusions. Sometimes, the fears are built up to create a buzz by people who don't necessarily know the full story. Occasionally, there are legitimate concerns. Either way, the best thing you and I can do is to do our research, learn about it, and then make an educated decision on our feelings about a thing.
Personally, I'm thankful for change in many ways. It has given rise to technologies that help us to do business and communicate more efficiently and even save lives. It has lead to opportunity for many people who had been diminished on the basis of uncontrollable factors in the past. It even paved the way for you and I to be free citizens of our beloved country--printing press, anyone? I'm also thankful that we have the ability to change as people--to advance, to live better, to be better.
So yes, let's keep our eyes open and remain watchful, always. But the truth is: yes times, they are changing. Yet thankfully, they always will.