Ford Was Right: We Would Still Ride Horses.

change

The whole hysteria with the iPhone jack-lessness of “OMG the battery will die quicker and so are we” reminded me of one thing: we hate change. We like the idea of it, but we hate change itself. There are many examples from all facets of life about this.

As humans we are hard-wired to resist change. Most of us hang on to the current status-quo, not necessarily because it’s better the way things are now, but because we are used to them this way. There are many examples just throughout recent history.

When the first MacBook Air was released it didn’t have a CD slot. Who the hell will buy a laptop, that is better than a netbook, for more than 1000 dollars, without a CD reader. If you want any work done it’s a must-have, many people said. It was a huge success, it created a category that we call today ultrabooks. Lightweight, powerful computers.

In 2015 Howerboards have been banned from New York. They consider them a dangerous mean of transportation. What if I would have told you that bicycles were in the same situation? Albeit the bicycles in 1880’s were not exactly as we imagine them now, they were being looked upon as vehicles for reckless people. Here is a fragment of an article published in the New York Times from 1880:

bicycle new york times

 

We are scared about self-driving cars now. They seem dangerous, we are not in control. Just 100 years ago, many towns ended up even banning cars from entering them. A citizen in 1898 called them “mechanical monsters”. One of the reasons for the ban (besides the economic and politic ones of holding up the status-quo) was that “automobiles might cause frightened horses stampede down busy streets”.

car ban article
Screen capture from 1998 Toledo Blade

Even the people who admired and were once the leaders of change, stop liking it after a while. Frank Sinatra had a long-lasting music career, starting from the big-band era covering many styles across swing and jazz. However at age 42 he had a strong opinion about a new style of music that emerged in the 1950’s.

Rock n Roll is the most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear.

The quote is from 1956. Rock’n’roll was regarded at the beginning as “black music”, until a white guy with a hairspray addiction and sideburns changed the perception of it, in 1957 he was already a sensation called Elvis Presley. Most people who are in their 50’s now have probably the same idea about trance. I bet your grandfather is not raving to Adagio for Strings. By his standards it is not even music.

The vast majority of us tries to fight change. Not the small, linear one. No one has problem with a 180 horsepower Volkswagen Golf if the previous model had 150. We have a problem with disruptive, sudden change. People who are visionaries fight our resistance by making a huge novelty seem more familiar. This is why you have a Trash, Files and Folders on your computer, office workers were already familiar with them. Similarly, for helping people accept that roaring, self-powered, obnoxiously loud thing they called an automobile, a businessman by the name Uriah Smith came up with the Horsey Horseless. It looked like this:

horsley horseless

Horsley Horseless – Invented by Uriah Smith in 1899

 

We are all guilty of it. We are early adopters in certain fields and we are old grandpas in others.

The number one thing that I resisted switching to was the smartphone. I know, shame on me. Now it seems like a total no-brainer, a must-have. I thought that it is only useful for people who need to be connected to the internet 24/7 for money making reasons. I was afraid that it will be a huge attention stealing, productivity-sucking monster, permanently within an arm’s reach. It turns out, I was right about this part.

What was your hardest switch yet? What was the gadget/idea that you were most stubborn with?

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