DIY 2.0 is not like the original DIY. The Do It Yourself movement has always been about being cheap, thrifty and cobbling together different everyday life solutions that barely worked. You did not feel pride in doing it, you used to only share your DIY efforts with a closed circle of people you could trust, and ultimately most people would abandon it altogether. I believe that this changed in 2008 when people realized that not all businesses out there are better at taking care of your needs and wants than you are; sometimes they are just as good or worse, but every time they charge you a premium because they have to make money too. The mortgage and investment businesses woke people up to the fact that relying wholly on others for everything in your life leads to a very fragile existence and makes you powerless in the end, no matter how much money you may have. People have also realized that by being good only at their career or job and paying others for all goods and services, they gave up on learning and honing all core competencies for everyday life and ultimately for personal growth and success. Before, people used to believe it was great to be raised to the level of manager in your life, where you just make money and pay other people for everything you need, and then you just manage those external services like a boss. The problem is, easy credit and low interest rates allowed people to live outside their means, to spend outside their means, and then any time a recession or mini recession hits, they can no longer afford to outsource everything in their lives, and they do not know how to do it themselves quickly, cheaply, efficiently and at good enough quality to be satisfied. This, dearest readers, is a huge problem because it creates a phantom economy, or rather a service industry and hospitality industry (notably food and drinks) bubble that is now exploding due to the COViD shutdown and very slow reopening. So, when people can no longer pay others for everything, and they do not know how to do it themselves, what do they do? They go on a journey of personal growth and taking back control, thereby creating a movement that has almost reached its peak.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the food department. Actually, if I had to pick the symbol of DIY 2.0, it would be the Instant Pot! Follow along, dearest readers, because this is pretty interesting. According to Wikipedia: "In 2009, Robert Wang, Yi Qin, Dongjun Wang, and one other friend, all former employees of Nortel in Ottawa, Canada, started working on designs for the Instant Pot. Wang is credited as the inventor of the Instant Pot." Perfect timing, I would say, as multi-cookers like the now iconic Instant Pot have empowered millions of people to take back control over their meals and bring dining out, takeout and delivery back to the frequency that they can afford without going in debt! I have used it as well (actually, Power Pressure Cooker XL) and have made with it rice dishes that most restaurants cannot match, save for expensive ones. I have also used it to make outstanding korma, beef stew, cakes, mini quiches, all kinds of soups and so on. A while ago, I wrote a post where I explained how, by cooking for yourself, you are literally paying yourself decent money for the service. Once an cooking appliance like that one gets you to see the benefits, you streamline the entire process from grocery shopping to cooking to things like meal prep, and you reap significant benefits from it.
What other things are people starting to do well in DIY 2.0, especially lately? Haircuts: people are learning how to trim their hair so it looks nice even as it grows bigger, and people with short haircuts can buy round shaped trimmers that make it easy to cut their own hair every time they need to do it. Manicure and pedicure: sitting in a small area full of chemical fumes where employees wear masks but you do not (even before COVID), this is something many women are deciding no longer qualifies as a pleasurable pampering experience. Chores: it is amazing how many calories you can burn cleaning your place, when you do it fast like it was a cardio workout; no need for cleaning services and you get to choose your own cleaning chemicals and equipment. Hair styling and professional makeup: I guarantee you that most women out there are at least twice as good at doing both of these themselves, and will pay for professional services less often (same goes for me, I picked up a few tricks haha).
The most important impact of DIY 2.0, however, is that you no longer feel cheap doing it, and you are no longer ill-equipped or low-skilled either. Once you go on this journey, you pick what you are taking control over, you learn, you get the right tools and you proudly share what you accomplished with your friends and sometimes online as well. They DIY stigma, however much of it there was before, is now gone.
Now, who is benefiting from it, and who is losing because of it? Let us answer this question in the timeline of the economy reopening in 2020 and the years to come. The winners are companies that create tools and supplies for our DIY 2.0 efforts. In case of preparing amazing meals, the winners are large companies making appliances like Instant Pot and air fryers (the runner up to Instant Pot), as well as grocery stores. Want to make your own lotions and soaps? The tools are pretty basic, and you can make a year's worth of high quality soap or lotion with tons of benefits ridiculously cheap. Do you like novelty shirts with funny statements to spice up your outfits? It has never been cheaper or easier to buy shirts, print designs you find online, and heat transfer them instead of paying 24.99 per shirt at stores. The list goes on. Who is losing in the DIY 2.0 world? Many places that provide finished products for a premium, but not at a level where they can compete with people who decide to do it themselves and get very good at it very fast. Suddenly, markets that were adequately meeting customer demand will become overly saturated with competition and many businesses will go under, making business closures due to lockdown itself seem tiny in comparison. I do not enjoy this, and in fact it worries me deeply as business closures will increase unemployment and decrease government tax revenue (bad for our healthcare and social services), but this is where we come back to my earlier point about the service industry and hospitality industry bubbles bursting. Phantom supply being created to meet phantom demand, all fueled by low interest, easy lending, and financial institutions getting us addicted to revolving credit and constantly carrying debt.
So, where do we go from here? I think that, this time around, more people than ever will refuse to go out and spend all their money to help jump start the economy again, because realistically speaking (for many people) that money is gone on the last few economy jump starts the government and the banks enticed us to do. Some of us are still servicing debt from those previous times. Businesses will compete for survival more than ever before, and they will have to reinvent themselves faster than ever before. Businesses providing tools and supplies for our DIY 2.0 efforts will flourish, and new ones will rise. Finally, I think that more and more people who get excellent at making things will start selling them and boost their income that way instead of delivering food and doing other gigs. A friend of mine told me of at least one European country that encouraged people to make things at home and sell them to others, and turned a blind eye to the revenue made from it so that income was not taxed. So, if you made really good lotion, you could sell it locally and because it was artisanal and homemade, it was tax free. A modern type of this particular approach (perhaps with an earnings cap and a few other stipulations) could empower people even more, and get them to move away from gigs and closer to competing with others by honing valuable skills and pushing their products.
All in all, with DIY 2.0 we could end up seeing a completely different economic landscape in the years to come. Will it be better or worse? I do not have an answer to that. But, there is a good chance that it will make our economy more resilient because it will become further decentralized. Decentralization, if you ask cryptocurrency people, is a better way to go. Let us see how this goes as we surf the reopening wave. :)