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 :