The more progressive and technologically advanced we become, the more I feel I’m losing. I didn’t realize until recently that there are things I have learned over my lifetime that my kids have never had to learn and are downright perplexed as to why I would have ever had to use some of the soft-skills I’ve picked up.
My daughter and I were watching an episode of The Amazing Race where they visited Margaret Mitchell’s home. One challenge was to type a letter on a typewriter that would have been around during Mitchell’s lifetime, only the number one wasn’t on the keyboard. Contestants had to produce an error free typed letter and figure out which key you would use to replace the number one when typing the address. Anyone remember the key from your typing days? My daughter was very impressed that I blurted out the answer as soon as they gave the task – she’s never touched a typewriter, only keyboards and couldn’t understand why the number one wouldn’t work. All you have to do is call IT and get a new keyboard.
I don’t know about you, but I do not know how to change the channels on my television without the remote; embarrassing, I know. The surround sound remote boggles my mind and if by some chance a button gets pushed and the sound goes off, forget it, we have to wait until my husband gets home to work his remote magic. The kids and I have had to pile on my bed to watch TV until Dad came home because the remote only likes grown men.
When we bought my daughter her first car, she couldn’t figure out how to use her windshield wipers or headlights; every car she’d driven had automatic wipers and lights. She looked at us like we were aliens as we explained the knobs and buttons and stressed the importance that whatever gets turned on, must also get turned off. We experienced several dead batteries before she learned to turn the lights off once she’d reached her destination. I hope she never enters a car without air conditioning and equipped with manual windows; she may not get out alive.
Technology is fantastic and makes many tasks easier to complete. I wonder though, what would have happened if one of the recent solar flares had fried our satellites and networks? Could you do your job without your computer, email and Internet? Would you even have the equipment available to you that would allow you to continue to work? I think we have one typewriter in our building and I’m pretty sure only a handful of us know how it works.
I haven’t purchased an actual book in over a year, I haven’t written a check to pay a bill in a very long time and my son believes that as long as I have my “blue card”, I can buy whatever I want, there’s no connection that money actually has to be in the bank for the card to work. I carry a smartphone that keeps me connected to my office and internet and does everything for me but walk the dog. I’m reachable anywhere and anytime, I know the news before it’s printed and if there’s not “an app for that”, my IT guy can make it happen for me.
Do all these advancements make our lives more simple and efficient or does it overload us and in some way, make us weaker? Does it matter that we’re losing soft-skills like knowing how to write a check or problem solve? One skill that I’m convinced has been lost, and I’m not sure what technology has to do with it, but I’ve noticed that we’ve lost the knowledge of how to put a roll of toilet paper on the little rod in the bathroom. I’m pretty sure this skill gap is a national epidemic. Any day now there should be an app for that.