Good old times

I’ve been trying to take inventory of all the useless skills I’ve collected in my life, but I’ve given up. I realize that, sooner or later, all of it becomes obsolete. Absolutely all of it. Work hard, study hard, goof off and daydream, scam and lie and cheat : none of it matters. Everything we know will become quaint, then forgotten, perhaps to re-surface as nostalgia or revival but most likley not.

I can program a VCR, format a floppy disk, tie good knots, read a map, and I have pretty good handwriting. I can’t field dress a deer, but I can grow food, repair mechanical things, and make paper.

There’s so much.

There’s a reason why people get tired in the face of new technology – how many times do we need to learn a new tv format? Business merely finds ways to sell us the same snake oil again and again, with improved packaging and a whole raft of new technologies to make it pretty.

Who can blame us if we retreat into familiar patterns, mastered long ago.

From the New Yorker :


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9 Responses to Good old times

  1. shythom says:

    i can pick up almost anything with just my toes. i know it’s not a great skill – but it’s one of my useless skills. šŸ™‚

  2. jaklumen says:

    I don’t take so strict or harsh a view. Quite a few of these skills fade away from widespread use into a niche, but they never completely disappear. Books did not completely kill the oral tradition, nor should we expect that mobile devices will kill books and the print medium completely either. Computing and digital media have yet to completely kill handwriting and cursive if my children’s schools are any indication. This hand-wringing has been done for centuries, Doug, and by Greek and Roman philosophers, no less. I prefer to take a much longer view and accept that these concerns are absolutely nothing new.

  3. kimkiminy says:

    There are still plenty of skills useful throughout time. Like being able to sardonically raise one eyebrow at someone.

  4. lauowolf says:

    Ink an old-style typewriter ribbon.
    Cut a stencil for a ditto machine.
    Those two are GONE.

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