Thursday, January 03, 2008

Changing Years

As we embark on another new year, it occurs to me that there are 3 types of people when it comes to “change.”

We all know the two types on either end of the spectrum: the change agents and the change averse.

The change agents are the drivers of change. They live for it, they thrive on it. They’re the ones who pull up in the new car every other time you see them; the ones whose address you need to check before sending out holiday cards. The ones who buy the latest gadgets because they’re cool and then figure out how to incorporate them into their lives.

The change makers’ polar opposite are the change averse. You know them too: if they’re not in their childhood home, they’re probably in the same neighborhood they grew up in. Same car, same circle of friends. And technology? Yeah, they have a cell phone, but it’s never charged. Sure they have a computer but they just got dial up—you know because they keep sending you chain letters and pleas to help some needy soul. Sometimes these folks are motivated by being green or saving money, but usually they just don’t like the discomfort that comes with learning new things and they create a cocktail of laziness, fear and resignation.

And then there is the third type—the silent majority. They go with the flow, meaning they adapt and adopt, but it’s because “everyone else” is doing it and unlike the truly change averse, they fear being left behind more than they fear the advances themselves.

This is the bucket in which you will find people advancing in years. While the Millennials are quick to incorporate Facebook, YouTube, and mobile search into their daily lives—hell, they don’t know a world without the Internet—their parents are slowing down, as people tend to do, and saying they just don’t see the need for social media, GPS or the new e-book devices, though they begrudgingly start a Facebook page that they seldom visit and fiddle with the navigation device in their new car. And sometimes they actually fall in love with something, like DVR, and become its biggest evangelists.

I find myself wondering how or when the Millennials will become like their parents regarding change—is the avoidance mindset an inevitable part of the aging process? (Will we even continue to age or will science help us avoid that changing?).

And more and more I ask myself how I can keep being in the change seekers group as my bandwidth becomes crowded with all the stuff I need to remember. I find I more carefully weigh which new new thing I need or want and how it will truly advance the ball for me…I confess I was having a hard time getting my head around Facebook, LinkedIn, and Digg, wondering why I would share myself with new “friends” and to what end. But once I had a core group of people connected to me—some old, some new—I saw that social media does ease the effort of staying connected, and makes sharing ideas fun. I dodged the avoidance bullet by making myself try something new.

Well, anyway, I thought these were some things to be thinking about as we transition from 2007 into 2008. And, BTW, Hammacher Schlemmer’s ebook device starts shipping January 11. Will you be blogging about it on January 13, waiting for the reviews, or carrying a stack of books around with you on the train?

Happy 2008 everyone!

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