OP-EDS

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September 22, 2008

Change we can live with

Change is not a pleasant experience.

On the morning of July 21, the lives of millions of high school students, college students, and twentysomething borderline-creepy hangers-on were changed.

As these people opened up laptops, switched on computers, or tapped and flicked iPhones, invariably proceeding to Facebook, their eyes went wide with shock: Facebook had been redesigned, and the powers that be prompted them immediately to switch to the newer, sleeker version.

Many did, accepting the change outright; others sent shrieks of panic and confusion across News Feed and Twitter and fired off flustered demands for help—plz tell me how 2 acess my old prom pix i cant find them???—to the development team. But slowly the dust settled, and by the beginning of September, some 30 million users had switched from the old design to the new one at least once.

Facebook, however, doesn't have 30 million users. Rather, Facebook's members number more than 36 million, and that's not to mention that the 30-million figure refers just to those users who have tried the new version, speaking nothing of the thousands—if not millions—who opted in to the redesign and then fled in overwhelmed terror back to the original. That latter group aside, that's fully one-sixth of the Facebook population who would not even look at the new features that the development team cheerfully described as "simpler and cleaner," instead standing strongly and defiantly with the past.

What it comes down to is that, by and large, people don't like change. A new throw pillow, sure; a new president—eh, maybe every four or eight years. But to change Facebook, that daily social hub; or to have to trade in your beloved old Nokia brick for a new Razr; or to be asked to switch chewing-gum brands? Absolutely not. Change is not a pleasant experience.

But here you stand, Class of 2012, at the precipice of what is quite likely the biggest change of your entire lives. Maybe you're from Southeast Asia, and you won't fully understand what snow is until you've lost three toes to it; maybe you're from the Rockies, and the true consequences of Chicago's sheer pancaked flatness won't dawn on you until the first Arctic ice blast of wind rips across Lake Michigan and heads straight for you. Perhaps you've never had a roommate before, and the term "sexile" is utterly foreign, or it could be that you've just never had to go a week without Mom's cooking.

The point is this: Whether home is 50 or 5,000 miles away, starting right now you are very far from just about everything and everyone you know and love most. Your life as a U of C Maroon is going to be different—very different—from whatever your life was before you checked in for O-Week in Reynolds Club.

This sounds depressing and foreboding and bad, but it's not. This is an ephemeral state because change isn't a condition, it's a process. Soon, you and your life will have changed and been changed. For better or worse, your parents aren't going to be reading the newspaper down the hall anymore, Fluffy won't be sharing your bed, and your high school friends are not going to be inviting you out every Friday. Instead, you'll be faced with R.H.s and R.A.s, rabid Hyde Park squirrels, and new college friends. The old isn't lost (or necessarily different, even), but change becomes changed, and terrifyingly new and overwhelming and different becomes familiar.

So get ready, first-years. Make your bed for the first (and, let's be honest, only) time, grab a C-Shop milkshake, and hold your O-mance's hand nice and tight: It's going to be a wild ride, but give it a month or two and you'll be navigating the U of C design as happily as if it were not so different after all.