DIY Anonymous

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How many of you all actually read the instructions upon opening a complicated put-it-together project?  Anyone at all?  I know I don’t…

And how many of you will still be in that same spot, 5 hours later, struggling to fit peg E into hole F with little or no success?  You know, with the family members standing around going, “You need some help with that?”

Unsurprisingly, I’ve done that as well…

But by and large, the spirit of DIY is actually dwindling amongst Americans nowadays.  We don’t often build, we don’t do repairs, and I think, really, we just don’t want to work at it much anymore.

What do you think?

If you build it, you’re unusual; survey finds more in U.S. avoid hands-on projects or repairs

By Rick Barrett
December 17, 2009
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE — The United States has become a nation of “non-tinkerers,” a new survey shows, and it has harmed the way we live and work.

In a poll of 1,000 U.S. adults, nearly six in 10 said they had never made or built a toy.

Twenty-seven percent had not made or built even one item from a list of eight common projects, including furniture and a flower box.

Sixty percent avoided doing major household repairs themselves, noted the survey from The Foundation of the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, based in Rockford, Ill.

It’s worrisome because the “hands off” policy around the house has kept people from learning valuable skills — including ones associated with productive careers, according to the association, which has more than 2,300 members in the metal fabrication industry.

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2 comments on “DIY Anonymous”:

  1. Ethan

    Hey Carmen, I love your blog and I read it all the time.

    Maybe this trend isn’t an entirely bad thing.
    For every Joe Non-Welder out there, it means more opportunities in the skilled trades. If nobody works on their own plumbing, plumbers can laugh all the way to the bank. I agree there’s a deeper societal issue, but there is a silver lining for handy people.

    And precisely because these DIY skills are no longer as common as they once were, they’re now nerdy-cool in a big, big way. There’s a growing, crafty counter-culture pushing back against the mainstream trend. Learning to weld is cool again, in some circles. For proof, check out this post where I compiled a few examples: http://bikebuilding.blogspot.com/2008/09/consumers-are-consuming-raw-materials.html

    See also this month’s WIRED cover story, on how “atoms are the new bits”: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/01/ff_newrevolution
    WIRED predicts we’ll continue to see the democratization of manufacturing, following in the footsteps of personal computers and desktop printing.

    The news may not be all good, but there’s a rowdy bunch of us fighting back.

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  2. Andy from Workshopshed

    Creating a kit for someone else to make is a lot harder than just building the item in the first place. It’s actually quite difficult to write good instructions for something you know how to do well as you have to guess what the builder does not know. Perhaps the spirit is dwindling because the kits are of poor quality in terms of ease of build?

    Your post reminded me of a comment early last year where Lisa Anne Auerbach raised the idea of “Don’t do it yourself”.

    http://www.workshopshed.com/2009/03/ddiy-dont-do-it-yourself.html

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