Are handcrafted items really better than machine-made ones?


If price tags didn’t already tell you, handcrafted items are almost always valued more than machine-made goods.

Why is that so?

Obviously factory products aren’t that bad—billions of consumer dollars are spent on them annually. But handmade items also have value. But what are the advantages of handmade goods? And, on the other hand, what are the advantages of machine-made goods?

Well, let’s start with handmade goods.

The first and foremost advantage of handmade goods is their uniqueness—for the most part, no two handmade items are the same. They’re not just run-of-the-mill products—being unique, such items take on a unique character that make them stand out from common, everyday items. This is probably why they make such great gifts: finding a unique gift that matches someone’s character is often a helpful way to tell someone that you’ve been thinking about them.

Anyone can make them. Of course, it will take time, and for some, it will take longer than others, but in the long run, this usually proves to be another advantage. Again, if you’re making a gift, it suggests care and concern. And if you’re making it for yourself, you’re probably the best judge of your own taste.

Human judgment trumps robot judgment. Referring specifically to the field of cooking, I think humans will always cook better than robots, primarily because we actually have receptors and a brain to decide whether food tastes good. And people enjoy different foods, so unless the robot can chemically figure each one of our brains out, asking a person to taste the food is probably a lot faster far less time consuming.

There’s probably a lot more that could be said about why handmade goods are better, but here are the top four things that I would much rather have handmade than machine made:

  1. Food (above all else)
  2. Novelty goods (well, duh)
  3. Paintings
  4. Flower bouquets (I can’t imagine robots trimming or wrapping flowers either)

But now, what are the advantages of factory productions? (Okay, I know there’s a lot to be said about factory productions. Good, bad, downright evil. But I’m just going to discuss their benefits, because there are some.)

As opposed to handmade goods, one of the primary advantages of factory goods is their uniformity. Everyone who’s buying the product gets the same thing. That’s a little more helpful in brand creation and sales, because if everyone is getting the same thing, then you don’t need such exhaustive inspection of a product to see that it is better than all the rest.

They can be made quickly. Automation has done wonders for consumerism. The ability to churn out goods quickly has led more people to have more of what they want more of the time. Which is good in some ways. While artisans might take a day, days or even weeks to create a single product, factories can churn them out in large quantities daily, ensuring that everyone has enough of them.

Also, machines can do things that humans can’t, do want to, or shouldn’t be doing. I’m guessing most people don’t want to work around hazardous materials 24/7. Or even 9/5. Because there’s this thing called accidents. And radioactivity. However, machines, being inanimate, can handle the brunt of the dangerous work for us.

Again, there’s probably a lot more that can be said about factory goods, but here are the top four things I would rather a machine make than a person make.

  1. Toilet paper
  2. Automobiles
  3. Banknotes and coins
  4. Plastic wrappings (including cling wrap, bubble wrap, and the stuff chip bags are made of)

So, now, which is actually better?

Considering how different handmade goods and factory goods are, I really have to say that there’s little ground for comparison. While people might appreciate a homemade jar or mug, I’m quite sure no one will appreciate homemade Clorox as much. In the end, I’ll have to say that I appreciate and rather need both, and, as much as I like good food, good toilet paper is nice too. So I’ll say that they’re equal.

What are your thoughts on the differences between handmade and machine-made goods?

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