We're lucky. I mean, really lucky. We live in a global culture of makers, imaginers, and inventors. Every single day brings with it amazing, new technological advances. But somewhere between the constant innovation and endless product releases, we forgot something important. We forgot how to fix. Worse, we started to fear it.
When did people start believing that stuff was too complicated or too far-gone to repair? Why would a society of creators fear the things it creates? The answer lies in design. Under the guise of sleek and sexy branding, manufacturers seal things up with glue. They make products that are disposable and unfixable. Consumers get psychologically bullied into thinking that repair is beyond their capability.
And we are compliant. We agree to purchase $600 phones every year. We accept that our clothes fall apart after a couple of washes.
But when we don't fix our things, we risk something far more vital than just the money in our wallets. We risk losing the ability to be thinkers.
Fixperts, a social project in the UK, is based on one simple idea: Fixing is thinking. It's a simple idea, but one that is more important now than ever before.
"We tend to forget that fixing is really a gateway to creating, making, building, and imagining beyond fixing a cracked drawer in a fridge," says London-resident and Fixperts' co-founder James Carrigan.
The last decade has seen a rise in organizations that share the same sentiment. Repair cafés and repair coalitions—groups like Mend*RS and Fixit Clinic—are popping up all over the world.
And these organizations—like our company iFixit, a free online repair manual for everything—want to help people foster their own independence, explore their stuff, and learn to fix broken things with confidence.
"Repair is global. People are hungry for this," Carrigan says.
Fixperts' goal: Feed the people. The social project centers on collaboration between designers and everyday people. And then sharing that experience with the world. Step 1) Partner an expert fixer and a person with a problem. Step 2) Solve the problem together. Step 3) Film the process for the world to see.
"When you have a maker connect with someone who is not a maker, you get this interesting sharing that happens naturally—because there is a reason to share," Carrigan explains.
Want to see Ben, a cycling paramedic in London, waterproof his medical equipment? Or Mr. Lui, a retired professor in Tonji, develop cat canteens to safely feed strays? Or even 102 first-year students at Brunel University work on 16 different fix projects?
The social project happens out on the street, in homes, and in offices—it’s even being implemented in schools. People who aren’t necessarily trained to fix anything, take apart everything. Fixperts is an opportunity to finally understand the complicated, scary technology that surrounds us all.
It's a fight against fear. It's a fight to be thinkers.
And with footage streaming online, you can be a part of those fixes, too. Carrigan explains, "The reason we created the Fixfilm, was to share with people the journey. You know, failure is part of making something and part of solving the problem. And a big part of what we do is to educate people and make people comfortable with failure."
That's the reality of fixing. Even if you're an expert, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. And it's encouraging to see other people—after multiple failures—try, try again.
"Quite often people experience failure at fixing for the first time—game over. And they aren't going to try again," Carrigan notices. But what happens when you don't accept "game over" as the answer? You fix something, and that makes someone’s life just a little bit better.
So how can you get involved? Watch some of the awesome Fixfilms. Call up your local school and tell them about Fixperts. Ask your best friend if you can help her fix her broken glasses. Look around your neighborhood and find out what can be improved.
"It’s literally unlimited with what you can do and who you can approach—if you're passionate," says Carrigan.
Grab a person, a camera, and start fixing, so you can finally stop fearing. And start thinking.
Image courtesy of Fixperts.