Essay on the diy phenomenon as a way to combat consumerism

One of the most wonderful social movements I have observed in the past few years is the move toward DIY – do it yourself projects. This seems to be a concerted and deliberate effort to combat consumerism; DIY advocates believe that you do not have to be dependent on the purchasing of products by companies, thus making you beholden to them and allowing them to dictate your own tastes and decisions. With DIY, however, you can create the object yourself, and it also empowers you to get something outside of the consumerist system in which we live.
The Craft Manifesto is something I find very empowering; their mantra that craft is “ powerful,” “ personal,” “ political,” and “ possible” allows me to understand the full gravity of what I am doing when I create something. To do a DIY project puts you in a much closer relationship with the thing you are making; ordering it from a catalog or online simply makes you the recipient of a process other people did for you. Making, as Janoff puts it, puts us closer to “ our sense of our own humanity”; even creating within a group, one becomes closer to a concrete group of people who are important to your life, instead of a large, heartless company that simply makes for the sake of making. When you buy a lamp from IKEA, you know that dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of other people have that lamp – you don’t feel like part of a community, just an end-user of a long heartless process. With a lamp that you made yourself, or buying a lamp someone you know made, that is one of a kind, and a reflection of the transaction you made with that creator. Conversely, you do not know who made the IKEA lamp, or who designed it (and they’re often not the same person).
The heart of DIY seems to be a rebellion against the system that makes us dependent on entities that do not care about us. Like when we go do a job that will dehumanize and belittle us because we need the money to survive, we buy things from large companies in order to survive – we often don’t have the time or energy to do it ourselves; “ we still lack control over the deeper questions surrounding the aggregate division of labor in society” (Carlsson 12). It is easier to buy than to create. However, by engaging in the creative process, we start to exercise our own character and put something of ourselves in something. By displaying what we make, we display who we are, and that can be a very empowering thing.
Given the current political climate and the recession, as well as the WTO protests, the rise in DIY culture makes perfect sense. With fewer people making money, or as much money as they used to, we are almost by necessity reusing things we have and trading in smaller ways. We are not buying as many new things as we used to, and I believe that can be an empowering thing. There is a greater emphasis on community now than there was before, and I like that DIY projects can be a way to galvanize smaller communities, as they are forced to work together given the economy’s recent downturn.