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The DIY Age and Its Origins
Written by Junsang Danny Cho | Published. 2020.08.08 11:08 | Count : 140
[Photo of the writer assembling a product from IKEA. Photo courtesy of Minsang Cho]

Humans love to create. Whether it’s art, music, food, literature, or physical goods, we are biologically wired to enjoy our creations. According to Dan Ariely from Ted Ideas, our impulse to create, also colloquially called the “IKEA effect”, is a reflection of our egocentric mindset as a toddler. We never fully lose this prioritization of the self, and so we tend to over-value and cherish our own creations. Do-it-yourself (DIY) products allow us to indulge this impulse, and so it’s no wonder that they are gaining traction amongst people of all ages. In these times where people are staying home more and working less, they have more time and energy to expend on hobbies like DIY products.

In order to learn more about the modern trend of DIY and its role in the everyday life of the average person, I asked both my fellow classmates and my teachers about their experiences with using DIY products. My teachers tended to favor larger DIY projects like house renovation, cars, and furniture (especially from IKEA). My peers, on the other hand, preferred much less time consuming and more “instant gratification” oriented DIY activities like tie-dying t-shirts (a prominent trend sparked by Tik-Tok), decorating their own stationery, or even through virtual DIY. These days, kids and adults alike can participate in DIY from anywhere in the world through popular video games like Minecraft and Animal Crossing (the best selling Nintendo Switch game of all time). In these virtual worlds, players can gather ingredients and craft anything they can dream of, like the ultimate DIY paradise. 

[Photo of the writer assembling a DIY product manufactured by IKEA. 
Photo courtesy of Minsang Cho] 

To fully understand the hype, I wanted to experience a DIY project with my own two hands, so I decided to purchase an IKEA chair and build it myself. My previous impression of such IKEA kits was taken from my parents' frustrated faces every time they bought a new bookshelf or coffee table from the retailer. I prejudged the task to be filled with unreadable directions, infinite amounts of parts, numerous lost screws (both literally and metaphorically), and inevitably pinched fingers and toes. 

At first, it was as hard as I thought it would be and the directions felt endless. However, as I worked and made sure to pay close attention to the directions and tutorial videos, I began to derive satisfaction from each section completed (in this case, each leg attached). By the time I finished the chair, I was admittedly exhausted yet surprisingly proud. Sure, my chair was not perfect and I did lose one or two screws; but, it was something I created that anyone in my house could use. Even though the chair was not of my own design, the finished product was the fruit of my frustration, labor, and eventual completion of the project.

All in all, through the creation of a DIY chair, I came to realize the appeal of DIY. It does truly feel different from a chair one simply bought at the store. Perhaps one reason why a trend like this has gained so much traction is the benefit for both consumers and producers in the industry. Consumers can explore a hobby and businesses can monopolize on that demand while making an extra profit from cutting production and assembly costs. Though I do not believe my life will become filled with time-consuming DIY products very soon, for those who have free time, it is an excellent and productive way to entertain yourself and have something new to show for it.

 









Junsang Danny Cho
Junior (Grade 11)
Smithtown Christian School

Junsang Danny Cho  student_reporter@dherald.com

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