Why DIY is dead and what that says about life today

A bulletin board I made a few years ago … that was destined for the dumpster.

Have you noticed the trend away from DIY? Fewer people today are taking on projects or “crafts” that look like they were tackled by an amateur.

Remember 25 years ago when tole painting was a thing? Almost every woman in our neighborhood owned some tole paints, whether or not she was a decent painter. But by following a pattern, she could get cheap and custom décor for her home.

Those days are largely over. Even the vinyl lettering craze from seven years back has quickly evaporated. This says a lot about the state of our economy and our mindset in the United States today.

So what gives? Here’s what all of this suggests about us today:

1. We have more. 2018 isn’t part of a golden era or anything, but man, things with the economy just feel more stable than they did a decade ago. I know only one person my age who doesn’t have a job but might like one. Today we can work from home, work just a few hours or days a week if we want, and make money from of a hobby like photography. More working means greater income and the possibility of disposable income.

2. We want more. When we have more money, we’re interested in nicer things and don’t feel compelled to do things the cheapest way possible. That’s why there’s a huge market in my area for starter homes; even the newliest of weds can get into a brand-new home for just a little cash. Why start with less when you can have more?

It took a few weeks for me to finish painting this secretary desk, and when I look at it, all I see are imperfections. I wouldn’t feel that way if I bought it new or hired someone else to paint it.

The same applies to tackling projects. Any DIY project can turn out badly, and that’s reason enough not to try. We aren’t willing to invest money or time into anything that might not be a 10 out of 10.

3. We have resources. One of the really great things about life today is that no matter where you live, you’ve got the world at your fingertips. If you want custom pillows, try Etsy for thousands of options. If you want custom artwork, the same thing applies. If you want your monogram on every towel you own, you can score that too, and you don’t have to do it yourself. Your home can be as personal and sentimental as you want because custom isn’t hard to come by. And a pro can do it for you.

Also, the prices in stores are right! Why buy a plain sisal rug and stencil it yourself when you can pick up a darling rug for less than $25 at Target? It would cost more to buy the supplies and do it yourself than to buy it finished in the store. Not to mention the time it would take, which leads to the fourth point …

4. We have less focus. Doing projects yourself requires one thing: patience. And the ever-presence of stimulation provided by phones has killed our ability to focus on a single task for very long. The instant something veers into mundane territory, out comes the phone.

So are we even capable of DIY projects anymore? Maybe a small portion of the population is—those with natural artistic abilities fall into that category. But people like me aren’t going to take the time on a days-long project that a) might move along slowly and b) isn’t guaranteed to look good anyway.

All of this means that keeping up with the Joneses is going to get harder because the Joneses stuff looks darn near perfect. It also in the long run might mean lesser availability for crafting supplies locally, which might not matter because whatever you really need can be purchased online. It’s just a change in the way we live, and it’s reflective of our prosperity now. Might as well enjoy it while it lasts. •

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4 thoughts

  1. Interesting article. I hadn’t stopped to think about this and realize that things are changing. Maybe not for some of us old diehards, but I can see that this really is happening.

    Like

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