We live in a world of the impersonal: Facebook, Twitter, Texting and Emails have taken over from the face-to-face conversation. Mass-produced goods have all but annihilated the livelihoods of specialist craftsmen and even personal tastes are now carefully sculpted in Hollywood and Paris. Whatever happened to the power of individual thought and creativity?
The answer is simple. Mass production takes less work and less thought. The impersonal is easier, cheaper and more manageable. Writing on someone’s Facebook wall is simpler than paying them a visit. IKEA can squeeze more profit if everything that they produce is identical. After all, mass profit is made from the masses, not the individual.
Our society seems headed in one very clear direction: one in which people and behaviour patterns are becoming more and more predictable, more and more conformist and more and more soulless.
But this does not have to be the case. Over the past few years there has been a noticeable shift in the thought processes and attitudes in society. There has been a resurgence of second-hand and vintage goods and more and more people seem to be moving away from the factory-line setting and back to that individual spark that seems to give something soul, or swagger. This trend has also been picked up on by businesses, which now seem to be rapidly clutching for ways to make profit from the individual. They achieve this to varying degrees of success. Some of these businesses appear far from authentic when they say that they celebrate the individual. I think that a great example of this is Apple. They are the ultimate in ‘one brand suits all’ and yet their advertisements and general corporate presentation attempts to exude a sense of the personal: that family touch.
Others are tapping this trend in a more sensitive, genuine manner. For example, I recently read about a company called Bespokee. This is an online venture that is billed as being the online market place for everything bespoke, from Bespoke Furniture to Bespoke Jewellery. I really like this idea as it not only brings back that individual flavour, but it will also give small business craftsmen a platform through which to market themselves, something which I believe has been long evading them. I have been a long-time advocate of the small-time craftsmen: I believe strongly that the most beautiful things ever created by humans have been those created by an individual, not a factory. I am keeping my fingers firmly crossed therefore the businesses like Bespokee can take it to the IKEAs and Apples of this world, and maybe give us back a little bit of the soul that we have lost along the road.
Here’s to hoping!