I’ve been thinking a lot about “change” lately. Obviously, Obama’s campaign touted change as a good thing, and on the whole, I enjoy doing and seeing different things and believe change is required for progress. But sometimes, change comes so fast and furious that resistance sets in. I found this great website that covers predictable human behavior when faced with change: http://tinyurl.com/26786jv . The writer doesn’t solve anything, but he does a good job of explaining how and why various people react as they do when faced with any kind of shift in their circumstances.
One of the reasons I’m starting to drag my feet on the enormous changes the publishing industry is facing is explained quite succinctly on the website: “my needs are met, I’m heavily invested” in print publishing, and I really don’t want to change totally to this brave new world because “the journey there looks painful.”
I’m probably a bit ahead of the curve on my resistance because I’ve already experienced the rosy optimism part of the change, and now I’m heading to the downside as I see what we’re facing. I am dabbling with two books I want to sell electronically, and the heavy issues of editing, cover selection, and promotion are giving me headaches before I even get started. I really need a publisher to handle all of this for me. I just want to write the blamed books. But that’s not necessarily how the next chapter of publishing will work.
I, at least, have the advantage of being able to make choices based on the huge amount of information at my fingertips. But can you imagine how our historical characters felt as the enormous changes between the Georgian era and the industrial revolution took place? If you’re afraid to try an e-reader, just imagine how Our Heroine felt when faced with her first steamboat or train ride. We all know how the Luddites reacted to machine manufacturing, and I can certainly relate to wanting to smash machines to bits—if only because I don’t grasp the technology and I’m convinced computers hate me. (photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/2dmzaff)
Men who were interested in the changes happening around them probably belonged to the various scientific, philosophical, and technical societies that formed, but on the whole, women had only each other to rely on for information. How did they feel when their wool was no longer spun by the local weaver but mass-produced by some smelly plant miles from home? And the new chemicals used for dyeing fabric (see Kill Your Hero with Wallpaper) created fabulous wallpapers and gowns, but would Our Heroine be leery of fabrics shipped all the way from exotic places like India? Obviously, the Kasmir shawl became popular at some point. Did mothers agree to the expensive purchase simply because Lady Neighbor had one? Or did some resist such wasteful extravagance when a good English wool would suffice? (photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/2bbn358)
But shawls and gowns were just material evidence of change. The underlying, volatile change was the raising of the lower and middle classes to wealth as merchants turned industrial technologies to new uses. Child and slave labor became social issues that divided a complacent society in two. New science raised awareness of the dangers of inadequate housing, poor diet, and disease, and suddenly, people had to think of others besides themselves and their tenants. Their worlds grew larger rapidly—and it would be simpler if they could just turn a blind to eye to those changes. I’m sure many did. (photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/24j2xdn)
I’m thinking the modern world is also undergoing such a sea change, where underdeveloped countries are suddenly growing fast—at the expense of the wealthiest countries, and technology is speeding ahead so rapidly that many of us would rather bury our heads in the sand than face another new iPhone.
At what point do you draw your figurative line in the sand and say “heck, no” to change? And do you understand why you’re suffering from resistance and denial of the changes ahead?