In a world where products are homogenized, where a can of coke has the same price, and the same meaning across the globe, creative expression becomes an ideal, perhaps because it can’t be easily commodified.
We live in a world of one size fits all, where nothing is bespoke, or made for a specific purpose. Instead advertising assumes it knows more about you than you do yourself. Marketing predicts trends, cashes in on sub cultures, and sells mass produced goods with an inauthentic folk art aura.
Our manufacturing industry says little about who we are, instead it reflects what we’re happy to spend money on. Technology sells because of its promise of an easier life, but a faster rate of consumption hasn’t led to happier consumers.
We’re frequently overcome by buyers remorse, and we can’t decide what product to purchase in case there is a better alternative. We’re terrified of making the wrong choice, and we’re never content with our purchases (or the present moment).
Mass production has destroyed the essence of creation. And in a world full of cheap and disposable goods, where we’ve lost a connection with the makers of a product, and machines design and print, and stitch and sow, skilled handmade products have even greater importance.
There’s something special, perhaps even sublime, about holding a product in your hands that you couldn’t make yourself. The computer you use everyday is made from parts that you could purchase, and with a little bit of help from the internet, anyone could assemble into a working whole. But that kiln shaped mug that holds your hand-roasted fresh coffee, well, that’s something different entirely.
We should purchase products that are made with creative and artistic care. We don’t need the easy to assemble furniture, the flat pack lifestyle that we’re told will make us happy, and give our lives meaning. We don’t need the factory farmed chickens, stripped, and sold for parts, or the fast living lifestyle that we’re sold via advertisements broadcast between images of opulence, wealth, and greed.
There are better things out there, there are products made by people who see the beauty and craftsmanship in what they do. These people don’t seek financial success, and most don’t turn a healthy profit, but they still express themselves through creation simply because it’s what they’re good at.
Mass Produced Sameness
Machine made goods have a sameness. They’re cut with precision, often assembled by poverty stricken hands, manufactured with little care, and a complete disregard to their ecological legacy. New tech becomes old tech, and the objects that we use until more expensive and shinier models arrive, sold through advertising and celebrity endorsements, fill holes in the ground, never to biodegrade.
If humans went extinct over night, the planet would be better off. Bees are more important to the world and its ecology than we are. But we can change that, we can use our intelligence, our ability to craft, to think creatively, to better not just our lives, but the lives of future generations too. If we’re judged on our output, on our ability to mass produce objects that have no lasting impact, then collectively we’re failing to make anything of note.
We can design objects that are part of our environment, that are made from pieces of nature, harvested sustainably. Our collective output doesn’t have to come at a cost to the environment, and it doesn’t have to cause suffering.
But the burden is on us, we need to make the choice. If we don’t, corporations will continue to exploit the planet for financial gain, because we’re paying them to do it for us.