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.”

Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott are getting company. Statues of the famous men are scattered across Central Park in New York City, along with 19 others. But they'll finally be joined by a few women.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth are the subjects of a new statue that will be on display along The Mall, a walkway that runs through the park from 66th to 72nd street. It will be dedicated in August of next year, which is fittingly the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Currently, just 3% of statues in New York City are dedicated to women. Out of 150 statues of historical figures across the city, only five statues are of historical women, including Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.

Keep Reading Show less

It's easy to become calloused to everyday headlines with messages like, "the world is ending" and "everything is going extinct." They're so prevalent, in fact, that the severity of these statements has completely diminished to the point that no one pays them any attention. This environmental negativity (coined "eco-phobia") has led us to believe that all hope is lost for wildlife. But luckily, that isn't the case.

Historically, we have waited until something is near the complete point of collapse, then fought and clawed to bring the species numbers back up. But oftentimes we wait so long that it's too late. Creatures vanish from the Earth altogether. They go extinct. And even though I don't think for a single second that we should downplay the severity of extinction, if we can flip this on its head and show that every once in a while a species we have given up on is actually still out there, hanging on by a thread against all odds, that is a story that deserves to be told. A tragic story of loss becomes one about an animal that deserves a shot at preservation and a message of hope the world deserves to hear.

As a wildlife biologist and tracker who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of animals I believe have been wrongfully deemed extinct, I spend most of my time in super remote corners of the Earth, hoping to find some shred of evidence that these incredible creatures are still out there. And to be frank, I'm pretty damn good at it!

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less