Saturday, December 11, 2010

Change is not always for the better...

How would you feel if you walked into your kitchen and somebody had rearranged your cabinets for you? You hadn’t been consulted, your opinion had not been solicited, you had not even been warned…you just opened the drawer to take out a towel and found cutlery instead, you opened the cupboard to take out a plate and found boxes of cereal, you reached under the sink for the trash bin and found a basket of potatoes in is place.

Would this annoy you? Would you find it aggravating, even if the changes were good ones that were actually more efficient than the way you had arranged things?

My guess is that this kind of thing annoys people, and it annoys them because it takes them out of their comfort zone, prevents them from operating on autopilot and forces them to turn their conscious minds to something other than what they prefer at a given moment. It is disruptive to the rhythm and habit of everyday life to have to deal with changes that you neither wanted nor found necessary.

If this kind of change is frequent, the annoyance factor increases. If it is frequent but random, the annoyance factor increases even more. If you never knew, on entering the kitchen, where the pots were going to be or where to throw empty wrappers, before long you would find yourself increasingly annoyed not only with the person (even if the person is unknown) responsible for the changes but, somewhat irrationally, with the kitchen itself. Given enough of this chaos, you could easily come to hate the kitchen, even though the room itself is not to blame. And, if you have no alternative but to use this ever-changing environment, you would continue to do so, but not so happily, right up to the time a more stable alternative presents itself.

Perhaps one of the worst scenarios would be to just get used to the changes in the kitchen only to walk in and find it changed again. Perhaps not the whole kitchen, just the things you use the most have suddenly been moved or change. Maybe you liked the pot rack above the kitchen sink and aren’t happy that it is gone…maybe you liked the 3 bowl prep sink with sprayer and aren’t thrilled with the two bowl sink without a sprayer. Maybe you liked the cooking utensils in a crock beside the stove and find the rack of utensils affixed to the wall in back of the stove difficult to use. Maybe someone should have asked you before they rearranged/reorganized/remodelled your kitchen for you?

Different is not necessarily better and change for its own sake is pointless, fruitless, and akin to running in place. The old country saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” addresses this. Change that accomplishes a desired end is one thing, change that comes about simply because it can be done is a whole other. In a system in which people must adjust to the changes, unless those changes are visible improvements over the previous situation, the changes are just going to annoy the people who must now learn the new way when they had no beef with the old one.

And so we come to FaceBook. Recently it announced a change in how the user profile looks. It is a pointless cosmetic change that offers no improvement and, in fact, has taken away at least one much-used feature: the status line. But, unannounced, there has been another annoying change sprung upon us: the status bar is missing from the “news” page and must now be summoned by clicking an icon at the top of the page. These changes follow hard on the heels of a particularly annoying change in how the Groups work: you cannot type more than one paragraph in any Group message because as soon as you hit the “enter” key, the message sends. On the “news” page, however, the “enter” key gives you a new paragraph.

All these changes have come up in the last month or two and absolutely none of them needed to be made. Instead of quickly typing up a thought or a message, I now have to now hunt for that icon, click it, wait for the status bar to appear and then wonder where the hell my thought disappeared to while I was distracted with all that mundane and unnecessary makework!

FaceBook perhaps should follow the saga of MySpace, which I abandoned when something better came along. Too many changes, too much orientation towards a particular demographic, too little response to user needs. Enter FaceBook and a mass exodus ensued.

Makes you wonder what’s going to happen when something more user-friendly and more truly privacy-oriented comes along, dunnit?


  1. I really agree with you on the FB changes--and in fact, I think the entire staff has ADHD--they are always changing the focus of something, and often not for the better!

    The beginning of your post really reminded me of a former roommate, who would do exactly what you said almost every week! She would rearrange everything--furniture, cupboards, etc. And yes, it was extremely annoying!

    Great article, SV!

  2. Many years ago, I had a fabulous house cleaner who would redistribute my nicknacks around the living room, but also reorganize my kitchen and bath (creams, etc.). It annoyed me no end but I kept my mouth shut because this lady cleaned EVERYTHING, She'd pick up my kids' toys and arrange everything in their closet so that they could see everything. And if it had been moved I knew it had been wiped. PLUS, we were at the "poor" stage and she was a bargain.

    Years later, when I lived in SA, I was chatting with a friend and we were comparing "help" stories and my housekeeper overheard me talking about Patsy (the former housecleamer). After that, Theodora rearranged all of my bathroom things. She started to do the kitchen and I put my foot down. I became used to the bathroom rearrangement. If I knew the day, I knew how she had rearranged. LOL.

    It sounds that people at FB, like government workers and contractors, are always trying to prove how necessary they are, by producing unneeded changes that they can point to with pride when employment audits come around.

    What is Jo'berg like in Summer?

    Hope your holidays were blessed and that the New Year is wonderful.

    The former African American,



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