It happens every 6-9 months or so.  The popular social networking website Facebook comes out with an unannounced alteration to its format, and people lose their minds over it.  A friend and fellow pastor, Frank Oakman, posited the question: why are we so preference-driven?  Changes happen, but for some people, those changes are a curse word, a pox upon their house.  So, why are we so afraid of change in this life?

1) It’s Different.  I always thought it would be fun to write a children’s book entitled: “You Are Different, and Different is Bad.”  Okay, maybe that wouldn’t be a New York Times bestseller, but essentially, that is the message that we pass on to children when we start to throw a fit about changes that get made.  We want things to conform to a certain pattern in our lives, and when something doesn’t fit that pattern, we look at it differently.  Perhaps this is why we see kids making fun of other kids that are different or weird.  We’ve put this idea into their heads that different is bad, so when they meet somebody that is different, we automatically begin to look at it with suspicion.

2) It’s Unexpected.  This is a big reason, and it really falls on the shoulders of those who are leading the change in order to avoid some backlash.  Another recent example of this is the announcement from Netflix regarding the pricing changes and separation of the mail-order and online services.  They simply announced that this was going to happen.  One day, Netflix users got an email saying that their prices were going up.  People were not clued into the decision until it was already made.  And what happened?  Netflix stock went way down, many people cancelled their service, and they got blasted across the social networks.  There was no reason why these changes were being made, at least not until about six weeks later when Netflix users received another email from the CEO explaining the changes.  The same is true for Facebook.  The lack of communication is what really caused this uproar.  What if they had offered some BETA testing for selected users to get their feedback on the new design?  What if word slowly leaked out that these changes were coming?  Would the reaction have been as bad?

3) It Throws Off Our Routine.  We are creatures of habit.  Good or bad, we like things to happen a particular way time and time again.  We develop routines, and we get used to seeing things a certain way.  When there is a change, then, suddenly, we are knocked out of our routine.  Something is different about our day, and we don’t like that.

4) It Causes Us to Re-Learn.  Once our routines are messed up, then we realize that we have to re-learn something that we have taken for granted in our lives.  We have to figure out where all the old familiar information is sitting.  We have to learn how to use the new features.  We have to work at it for a week or so, and we don’t like that.  We are comfortable with the way things were because we were used to it, and we don’t want people to mess with it.

So, what do we do?  How do we handle unexpected changes in our lives?  Sounds like that might be a good question to address next week.  But what about you?  How do you handle unexpected changes?