To adopt or adapt

…is it really the question?

To adapt and to adopt are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. To adapt means you have to change in order to to move forward, to overcome or to survive. If you have to adapt, there is a given fixed context that is somehow forced upon you. You don’t feel that you have a choice.

To adopt means you are willing to change, you want to learn new habits. The motivation for change is intrinsic. Adoption is serving you, while adaptation serves the external context or external forces.

This dichotomy of adapt/adopt manifest itself on different levels. The french philosopher Bernard Stiegler refers to the context of the advancing technology: submission to new technology versus appropriating new technology.

But the two concepts are also related to each other. On twitter I came across this picture relating to climate change:

I think/assume this picture is made by Brendan Leonard (@semi_rad)

To adopt and to adapt are on a continuum – like on a timeline as shown above. In hindsight we had a choice, there were signals for change, there were more alternatives and opportunities to choose from. But somehow we procrastinate till a point of no return where we only have one choice; to adapt. Where human nature fails to adopt, nature calls for adapt.

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