The world is changing every day and the digital age has accelerated many of these changes to what feels like the speed of light. So many skills that were absolutely necessary at home and at work in the 20th century seem completely outdated today.
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Some of these skills may have brain development benefits that might make them useful to some degree. Others are simply remnants of generations past, and there is no reason to keep them. Here are eight job skills that are officially disappearing.
Use a dictionary
Before the Internet, the dictionary was one of the most important books to keep close at hand, at home or in the office. Since you couldn’t just google the meaning of a word, you had to wade through the alphabetized pages of old Merriam-Webster.
Looking up words online is often quicker and easier, but with a dictionary we might have found a word or two along the way to the one we were trying to find. Today we tend to find the meaning of the word and move on. Does this mean that we learn fewer words? A study suggests that might be the case.
Storing telephone numbers
Before the advent of the smartphone, and especially in the 1970s and 1980s, you might have had a phone with few features other than a basic number pad. If you wanted to call someone at home or at work, you could look up their number in a directory, but it was much easier to write it down and then memorize it.
Today, memorizing phone numbers is largely a thing of the past. Almost everyone has a smartphone, at least in countries like the United States. And even flip phones can store contacts, so hardly anyone flexes those memory muscles anymore.
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“Go home.” Have you ever said this sentence? If so, chances are you could barely imagine the idea of fumbling around on a paper map (or printed MapQuest directions), carefully planning your route for what felt like hours. . But what if you can’t find your card? You may be out of luck. And the idea of using a compass is foreign to many of us.
Using GPS to navigate to where you are going undoubtedly saves you a lot of time and is much more convenient. But a neurobiologist claims that this addiction to GPS causes changes in our brains, such as a reduction in gray matter density in the hippocampus. Studies like these are still in their infancy, but maybe we shouldn’t throw away all those old maps just yet.
Dial a rotary phone number
Remember those touchtone phones we talked about earlier? Most of us don’t even dial numbers anymore if we’re calling someone we know. We simply find them in our contact list and click call. So the idea of having to spin a rotor to call somebody is hard to imagine.
But once upon a time, rotary phones were commonplace – and they were much more convenient than having to ask a switchboard operator to connect you to the person you wanted to call. However, while rotary phones were hugely innovative at the time, it’s hard to see this technology experiencing much of a resurgence.
Using a Map Catalog
For decades, card catalogs used the Dewey Decimal System to help people find the book they wanted at the local library. Card catalogs are exactly what they sound like: a series of printed cards on which the titles of books and other materials have been printed with a corresponding decimal. This decimal would match the one printed on the book, giving library patrons a way to browse thousands of books with relative ease.
Libraries still maintain a catalog, and they may even still have decimal systems, such as call numbers. But instead of having drawers full of cards, you just look up the hardware in the catalog, which tells you where to find it. While card catalogs were a great solution in the 19th century, they would be cumbersome to maintain today.
Drive a gear stick
Gearshift (or manual transmission) enthusiasts remain to this day, as many people in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s learned to drive with a gearshift. Manual transmission vehicles are more complicated to drive than automatic transmission vehicles, and the former is considered an art form by those who know how to drive them.
While manual transmission devotees might insist they should never switch off, few cars today have shifters: 2.4% in 2020, according to CarMax. And that percentage is more likely to drop further than not, because EVs have single-speed transmissions, eliminating the need to constantly shift gears.
Balancing a checkbook was once the cornerstone of personal finance. It was the process of reconciling the records you kept of the checks you wrote with those shown on your bank statement. If you found a discrepancy, it would indicate an error in your records or in the bank’s records.
However, few people write checks today. In the past, it was a way to pay cash when you didn’t have any on hand. But writing checks can be cumbersome, and today we can just swipe our credit or debit card or use Apple Pay instead. Writing a check could be helpful in helping us pay more attention to how much we spend, but the convenience of electronic payments tends to win out today.
Teaching cursive writing was once common in schools around the world. Perfecting your cursive was a point of pride, and some teachers might even grade students based on the quality of their handwriting. More than just a point of pride, however, cursive writing is believed to aid in brain development and language skills.
However, now that essays can be written electronically, it makes more sense to type them, and cursive has fallen out of favor. Some students inevitably have never perfected their cursive anyway, so teachers’ jobs are easier if everything is typed. We may be losing something with cursive, but the ease of typing has made cursive a thing of the past.
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