Like it or not, our culture is changing.
Culture shock is a term commonly used when we immerse ourselves in a culture different from “our own” culture, and we are confronted by life – but not as we know it. There is also the phenomenon of reverse culture shock, when you return to the home culture after living with a different one, only to feel you don’t fit in anymore.
So why am I talking about this? And more importantly, how does this relate to being smarter about the way we look after our houses?
As we often do when we feel like we have thought of something smart, I started thinking about my own experiences moving to a life in another culture. Moving was actually the easy part. It was returning to what I knew, once experiencing something new that was the shock. When you go somewhere new, at some level you are prepared. You expect different. You don’t quite know what this will look like, but you have already told yourself that this adventure might throw some curve balls you haven’t seen before. There might be food you have never tried, rules you have never thought of being important, traditions you have trouble understanding, and even more tricky at first, a language that you have never heard before. So I started thinking the term culture shock doesn’t quite seem to be the right fit and calling it a culture challenge makes far more sense to me. It’s not so much a shock when you live in another culture, but a challenge – be that good or bad – to take up the opportunities presented. I think the shock comes when we return to what we know. The home culture is seemingly unchanged, and yet it can feel foreign, because we have been challenged by something new – and this changes us.
I want to use this analogy to highlight that when we choose change we are more likely to see it as a challenge, or even an opportunity. We expect something different, so it’s far easier to embrace what we get. However, the flip side of this is when we don’t choose change, but we can still feel it happening around us. In this case, we are tempted to resist it, we can be deeply disturbed by it, and sometimes it paralyses or shocks us. Sometimes living in the culture we know best, creates the worst kind of culture shock in us. This is likely to occur when we don’t feel in charge of choices, and we subsequently dig in our toes and hang on for dear life to what we know.
So, this brings me to what we all know. Culture is changing and will continue to change. The way we live today and the way we lived in the 1950s and 60s is profoundly different. In many areas of our lives we have moved with the times. We use technology, we adapt with science, we weather political leadership choices and we understand that change is a natural part of life. And then there are our houses.
Change can happen everywhere else, but couldn’t we just keep change out of our houses? A house is our shelter, our place of solace and privacy, and at the heart of our most basic needs. A house is always somebody’s home. When changes are suggested to the way we care for our homes, or how we can more effectively manage our houses, understandably, toes start to dig in. But we need to reassess the way we look after, organise and manage our homes because whether we want to change or not, the way we live and the speed at which we live has changed. And even with the best organised systems, unless we sync our systems with the technology that drives almost every other part of our lives, our houses and our homes will suffer. In other words, we know change is upon us, and perhaps this is something we can embrace as a challenge to enjoy, rather than avoiding shock and pretending our culture is not on the move.