DIY culture says “no” to the idea that there is an established answer.
And it says “yes” to empowering an individual to develop answers for herself.
DIY (do-it-yourself) culture is not new. In fact, it’s always existed. It’s part of our unique make up as human beings, the thing that separates us from the rest of the animal world.
We don’t merely exist in the world that is presented to us. We use our environment, we manipulate tools, we actively form patterns of thought that help us cope with stress and anxiety.
Our most fundamental perceptions of both the physical and spiritual worlds arise from a need to conquer what is presented to us in a way that brings deeper understanding.
But DIY culture has seen a resurgence in the last 15 years. From the rise of craft supply stores & big box home improvement stores that cater to both contractors and hobbyists to the emergence of DIY superstars like Martha Stewart and television programming like the DIY network and TLC, DIY is pervasive.
We associate DIY with weekend remodeling and handmade jewelry but DIY is present in modern culture at all levels. There is DIY religion, DIY gourmet food, DIY farming, DIY music, DIY movies, DIY finance, and DIY self-help. In the 21st century, we use our unprecedented level of access to knowledge and technology to craft our world to our exact specifications.
From the dawn of history to the late 20th century, societies have been codifying every element of our lives: organized religion, organized shopping, organized entertainment, and organized marriage. We have succumbed to the convenience of being told the “right way” to do things because it was convenient. It was one less decision to make, one less obstacle to getting to putting food on the table or getting into heaven.
We have put our trust in mechanisms we don’t understand.
As populations grew and urbanization took hold, prescribed ways of doing things were all we knew. The industrial revolution even took the clothes we wore and the furniture we sat in away from the craftsmen and artists and into the realm of machine. Our food supply left our backyards and ventured into the factory.
Things got cheaper & easier to find.
We bought as one, we ate as one, we worshiped as one, we laughed as one.
But technology has begun to turn the tide of its own sea.
The human-made world is mostly beyond our comprehension. Our daily survival depends on seemingly magical gizmos that provide our food, water, clothing, comfort, transportation, education, well-being, and amusement. But you can make your world a little less confounding by sewing your own clothes, raising chickens, growing vegetables, teaching your children, and doing other activities that put you in touch with the processes of life.
— Mark Frauenfelder, MAKE
DIY culture embraces a powerful notion: you can have what you want if you can learn to make it yourself.
As our access to information & resources grow, so too does our desire to create what we’ve always (or maybe just now) wanted.
While that statement may seem like the DIY movement is quite egocentric, there is great evidence that the opposite is true. By reflecting on our own needs, by creating with our own mind, hands, fingers, toes, by relying on what has come before and projecting into the future what will be, we have become open to the ocean of possibilities that others are creating around us.
This is the new paradigm. Alexis Neely defines the new paradigm as a rejection of “either… or” and an embrace of
We can both create to serve our own needs and find the deeper value in what others create.
We can both learn how to make what we desire ourselves and consume goods made by others.
True, the danger of DIY culture is that we try to become entirely self-reliant. But the joy of DIY culture is how we begin to find our interconnectedness, our talents swimming & swirling with the talents of others in our community.
What does DIY culture mean to you? When did you learn to say “no” to what’s in front of you & “yes” to what you might create?