Why We Reject Novelty

The other day I was thinking about how different we all are. Each and every one of us has a quality or interest or physical feature that makes us unique. It’s amazing when you think about it. How could there be so many humans that have lived from the world’s beginning until now and not one of us has been exactly alike! But it’s these differences that often cause divisions and misunderstandings. We all have these different ideas and the way we perceive the world is different from the person next to us. Yet I find it remarkable that some people can have the audacity to reject another person’s ideas and viewpoints.

It’s unfamiliar

Asking questions, expressing opinions, sharing ideas, suggesting new concepts and processes. These are all natural human tendencies. Imagine living every day in mundanity. Nothing new today, just doing the same thing we did yesterday. Every day is made up of new routines and ideas. Without the variety we would deteriorate as a race.

But for some people novelty is a scary thing. These are typically the “practical” people, the ones who are dependent on the familiar and what will “get the job done”. Sure, sometimes suggestions, new ideas, a different perspective may take a bit more time but if it makes life that much more fun and jazzes things up a bit then why not give it a try? Try something new for a change. Don’t reject someone’s unfamiliar idea just because it’s different and it makes you uncomfortable.

This had me thinking, so I did a bit of research. What kind of ideas have been presented and rejected in the past?

An idea that changed the world

To my surprise coffee was actually one of those ideas. It was originally rejected and even banned in countries. It was feared, hated, and misunderstood. But now the countries that were once so determined to label coffee as “Satanic” are the same countries that are the most known for their coffee beans. But why were they so eager to reject this new drink?

One reason was because it wasn’t familiar. They were uncertain about its effects which made it unreliable in their eyes. Another interesting thing to note was that King Frederick the Great forbade the drinking of coffee because he thought it was impacting beer sales. So a measure of selfishness and pride would’ve been other reasons to reject the idea of coffee. He was determined to take away a measure of happiness from someone just because he thought beer sales were going down. A defensive measure on his part. Sometimes people will reject any idea especially if they think it’s a good one because it will make them look bad or impact them negatively in some way.

Be different

But imagine where we would be today if everyone was courageous enough to follow through with their ideas. Imagine the many ideas that were rejected that actually could’ve been as good as coffee! It takes a measure of confidence to want to follow through with your ideas even when everyone else thinks they’re a waste of time and effort or even idiotic. But we also have to understand that others are looking at the world through a completely different lens. So they may not be able to see how your idea could possibly work and how its effect and outcome can actually make a difference. 

So trust yourself. Even if no one else does. Because that could make all the difference.


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