Navigating change in our modern world: Is it always a good thing?


This is not an easy question to answer. My definition of ‘change’ and what I consider to be ‘good’ might be completely different to yours. Also, there are many different types of change – historical, political, philosophical – to list just a few. There are advantages and disadvantages to change and adaptation, with some people thriving in new environments and situations, whereas others feel pushed out of their comfort zone and anxious. Change can cause stress and be negative, but overall my opinion is that change is a predominantly positive concept because it forces people to adapt and evolve, enhancing their character and allowing them to learn more about the world.

Being a student, I have just undergone a profound change in my life, studying in higher education and living away from home for the first time. Would I say this change has been good? Yes, but it has been challenging to make new friends and integrating myself into a new academic environment. I think at periods of immense change, it really tests the character and conviction of an individual and they might require support from their family and friends. There have been times of anxiety but once you overcome those, you gain confidence, which is highly important and a reward of adaptation. During difficult times of change in the future you can draw back on past experience of how you overcame obstacles and feel assured that you can do it again. As American psychologist Abraham Maslow said so eloquently: “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or step back into safety.” Maybe it’s better to step forward and embrace change.

To chart the effects of change, I must analyse the original state against the new, if there is a positive development then the change can be deemed ‘good’. Often personal change happens because of societal shifts. Looking back at history, change has driven innovation and vast technological progress; these directly impact the world we live in today. Some changes were constructive and enhanced the world for the better. To illustrate this the examples of globalisation, environmental awareness, women & civil rights, and advances in healthcare and education are just a fraction of positive changes which have occurred in the last century.

However, I would be cautious before going around telling everyone that change and adaptation are always completely positive because it is innovative and develops society. This attitude is naïve and overly optimistic. Some changes are negative and have made people’s lives worse, even if they were originally perceived as being ‘good’. Take plastic as an example. When it was discovered that it could be a form factor to contain food & water, having thousands of industrial applications, it was seen as a positive change. Decades later we now know of its environmental dangers and the attitude to plastic is changing and its use minimised.

Another demonstrative example has been the rise of the internet and social media, which I feel has impacted the lives of students massively. The internet has allowed extensive communication and interconnectivity like never before, but for some, the web and social media have created added anxiety and distress.

So, is change a good or a bad thing? I think it can only truly be judged by the individual. My last thought is that change impacts everyone differently but it is how you react to that change which is of the most significance.

As you might imagine, this is a philosophical debate that will never end. 


Deputy Editor-in-chief

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