Admittedly, I am not a very careful person. My lack of cautiousness has led to a handful of car accidents, bloody battles with kitchen knives, and seemingly never-ending spiderwebbed iPhone screens. This past summer, I dropped my phone facedown right as I was boarding a plane for a long holiday weekend.
Kudos, Evil Phone Gods—you really couldn’t have picked a better time to attack. In mere minutes, my trusty Pro Tech Toolkit would be thousands of miles away. And if I wanted to buy a replacement screen, I wouldn’t be able to conveniently grab a new one off the shelf at work.
The realization that I didn’t have immediate access to the parts and tools I needed to fix my phone sent me into a panic. What was a fixer to do? I wondered if I should call work and ask them to overnight parts to my hotel, or if I should find a local repair shop while I was on vacation.
My emotional attachment to my iPhone was clearly in overdrive. But anyone who’s ever shattered their screen before knows that it’s like experiencing the five stages of grief sped up into 30 seconds:
- Denial: No! It can’t be—not my phone. (Stares paralyzed at phone on ground in sheer disbelief.)
- Anger: Irrationally yells at boyfriend: “WHY WOULD YOU LET ME WALK WITH A PHONE IN MY HAND? YOU KNOW I’M BAD AT WALKING!!!”
- Bargaining: No! Please, no! Please magically fix yourself… just this once? I promise I’ll get you the best case ever and start treating you right from now on.
- Depression: Le sigh. This blows. I can’t wait for everyone ever to ask me what happened and make me feel even worse.
- Acceptance: Goodbye, dear sweet screen. You were so good to me. Thanks for never bloodying up my fingers on shards of broken glass—you will be missed.
I’d like to add a sixth stage to the broken phone grief matrix: Empowerment. I was 20 when I shattered my first screen—it was awful because my 20-year-old self didn’t know how to fix a broken iPhone screen. My 29-year-old self does. And that’s a powerful feeling. For the first time in my life, I didn’t need anyone’s help to fix my iPhone. I was in control of my repair destiny.
Too many of us live in fear of fixing our stuff. I hear it all the time chatting with folks at repair events and on our Answers forum: “I’m too scared to try that repair,” or, “I’m not smart enough to work on an iPhone.”
The fear of fixing is relatively new. When resources were scarce after the Great Depression, reuse and repair were ingrained in our culture. But now, repair is too big of a business for manufacturers to give up—which is why most of them don’t provide the repair documentation or service parts you need to fix your stuff. They’ve led us to believe that only “Geniuses” and “Geek Squad” members are capable of fixing our e-stuff.
Last year, iFixit helped over 120 million people fix their things. That includes brave first-time fixers with no technical experience. I taught my 62-year-old mother how to swap her iPhone battery. And I’ve led repair workshops with Girl Scouts to help them replace their laptop batteries. We are all capable of learning how to fix our stuff—no matter our age, profession, or skill level.
That’s why I’m challenging you to make a New Year’s repair resolution. Just pledge to fix one thing in the new year. It’s so much easier than exercising or going gluten-free, I promise! Plus, repair saves you money and teaches you something new—it’s the resolution that keeps on giving. And if you don’t know what to fix, we’ve got nearly 50,000 guides to get you started.
So how ‘bout it? Let’s show manufacturers (and our 20-year-old selves) that we sure as hell can fix the things we own.