Why Facebook’s Changes Outrage People

Change Facebook? Over my cold, dead body!

Posted Sep 22, 2011

Lots of people are upset by the recent changes that Facebook made to its website. The look is a little different, and things function a little differently. This has caused people to rant and rave and some are even boycotting the site. What's going on?

Actually, the reactions are a very common human response: We are very resistant to changes of any kind. Coca-Cola found out about this when the changed to the "New Coke" formula in 1985. It was a disaster primarily because consumers resisted the change. Coke was part of everyone's lives, and we begin to believe that the "traditional" the "tried and true" and "the way we've always done things around here" are the right way - the best way. And, we forcefully resist any changes to what we are used to.

In fact, familiar things have a sort of "moral force" associated with them. Not only are they "right" and "best," but it goes beyond that - a sort of "god wants us to preserve this, to do it this way, and to resist any change."

Leaders in organizations realize that there is strong resistance to change, and so a whole field has emerged to help organizations deal with and manage change. It's called Organizational Development," or OD. It is very difficult to get people to let go of the old and embrace the new - a real problem in this era of organizational mergers and acquisitions. People dig in their heels, believing the old ways and the old things are the best things, the right things, and the moral force takes over.

Binney and Smith, the manufacturers of crayola crayons, encountered a problem when they tried to change the names of some of their crayon colors - people were up in arms, just like they are with Facebook's changes.

Psychologists who have studied change, and the resistance to change, will tell you, that the best thing to do is to realize that change is an inevitable part of life (and it's a part of Facebook, too). Being flexible and adaptable, and viewing change as an exciting challenge is a good way to move forward.

Facebook's changes aren't bothering me. It's what they've done to my Pandora!!!! (just kidding).

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