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What's Your Fixophobia?

I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately—requests I never anticipated. Can you help me fix my iPhone display? (Indeed I can). Will you show me...

I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately—requests I never anticipated. Can you help me fix my iPhone display? (Indeed I can). Will you show me how to repair my laptop’s trackpad? (Sure—which one?) What’s the best hack for my Nintendo 3DS? (I don’t know, but I can find out).

I’m no MacGyver. But after I announced to the world that I’m a Female Fixoholic back in September, my inbox has been pretty full. Apparently, people think I’m a repair expert. Don’t be fooled: I don’t know how to fix everything. I haven’t jailbroken my phone and I don’t use all my tools in my Pro Tech Toolkit.

But I don’t think that makes or breaks me as a fixoholic. I’m a fixoholic because I learned not to be afraid of fixing. I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty. I’m not afraid of grabbing a repair manual. I’m a fixoholic because—even when I fail—I’m not afraid to try, try again. Judging by the anxious emails in my inbox, I think that lack of fear is something most people, well, lack. It’s something I like to call Fixophobia.

Fixophobia. (n) a state of mind in which a person or persons do not fix their things due to a deep fear or insecurity.

You see, when I walked out of my apartment complex this morning, I glanced over at the building dumpster. And, sadly, I wasn’t surprised at what I saw. A mirror with a cracked frame. A pillow with a popped stitch. A TV with a missing button. Trash day isn’t until next week and already rejected items fill the container to the brim.

If I’d seen that same dumpster a year ago, I might’ve thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of junk. What a waste.” But now that I’m a fixoholic, I think: The mirror’s still good. I could restitch that pillow in five minutes. I could make a new button with Sugru.

I’ll be fair. Most of us haven’t been trained in the art of plumbing or taken advanced electrical engineering. But overcoming fixophobia isn’t about your level of expertise—it’s about your willingness to try. When we say “I’ll break my warranty,” or “I’m sure I’ll make the problem worse,” we’re metaphorically throwing our hands up in the air. And not only giving up on our right to repair, but kinda saying “screw you” to our ability to repair. If you’re going to throw something out, how much worse could it get?

But now is the time to stop fearing. Now is time to start picking up our drivers, spudgers, and hammers. Because we live in a glorious age with a whole ‘lotta fixer friends eager to help out. Maker Faires grow more and more popular each year—boasting thousands of attendees. Research on our environmental footprints, from companies like Patagonia, are becoming more commonplace. Transparency for electronics manufacturing, like the ethically made Fairphone, is gaining traction. Heck, even iFixit’s newly launched repair pledge illuminates the global scale of repair hunger. Fixoholics—all of them—providing us with a multitude of repair resources.

And yet, my building’s dumpster—one of millions—is consistently full and most consumers still cringe when an object breaks, unhesitatingly throwing the thing out.

So you wanna be the next to defeat fixphobia? Great. I believe in you. Because, like me, you don’t have to know how to fix everything. You just can’t fear fixing anything.

Here’s what you do: Let that mythical repair monster in your mind go. And try to fix something. Look up a guide. Participate in forums. Research some tools. Buy the parts online. Heck, start with a simple DIY search on Pinterest. And before you say, “I’m afraid I can’t”—say, “I’m not afraid to try.”

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