Are men today losing their DIY skills? Glenn Harlan Reynolds wrote a really interesting piece for Popular Mechanics on how Americans are losing their ability to deal with every day real-world problems:
Even the simplest of automotive tasks, changing a tire, seems to be beyond the ken of many people. According to AAA, nearly 4 million motorists requested roadside assistance last year—for flat tires.
And just look at the Popular Mechanics Boy Mechanic books to see the kinds of skills that boys and teenagers were once routinely expected to possess. These books (which PM published in the early 20th century and recently reissued) assumed that young readers would be prepared to construct a fully rigged ice boat, a toy steam engine, or—I’m not kidding—a homebuilt “Bearcat” roadster powered by a motorcycle engine.
It’s hard to imagine too many teenagers tackling projects of that magnitude these days. To be fair, young people today are likely to have skills that earlier generations never dreamed of—building Web sites, say, or editing digital movies. But manipulating pixels and working with physical materials aren’t quite the same thing.
Does this matter? And if people are becoming less mechanically handy, is that so bad?
(Illustration: Paul Blow)