Americana: Ten Things We Do Not Do Anymore Because of Technology

Today we are looking at a list of things that people used to do on a daily basis before technology changed everything and made them go away.  These are actually things people should continue to do and some may do these anyways.  I love technology but I also continue to do some of these things and still teach my students some of these items because I consider them to be needed life skills.  We all become so dependent on computers, phones, headphones, iPad and all those other gadgets that make life convenient and put the answer right at our hands.  I remember not so long ago traveling with the family and you had to actually take a map of the state out, locate the town or road, read the map and drive to that location.  Now we just say the address to our phone and it tells us how to get there and how long it will take. 

1- Figuring out basic math in your head- Kids are graduating school and cannot make change, count forwards or backwards to make change without a cash register telling them the amounts.  They grab their phone and put it in the calculator to determine your change.  If my bill is $10.05 and I give you $20.05 then the change is $10.00.  Kids often struggle with that concept because they no longer are required to memorize addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables like they used to. Being able to count change, identify coins, bills and make change is a life skill everyone needs and we shouldn’t have to rely on technology to tell us how to count it out. My students do basic math word problems solving retail and utility bill transactions in class to make sure they can count and make change.

2- Writing in cursive/signing your name- We go into the bank, store or another business and make a transaction and we sign by swiping a credit card or just running our finger along the screen making a line for our signature.  Kids are not learning to sign their names anymore in cursive.  There will be times in their adult life when they will be required to sign on the line.  Ask most teenagers, early twenty somethings what a John Hancock is and they probably do not know.  For those reading this a John Hancock is your signature. He was one of the first people to sign the Declaration of Independence, thus the tag line give me your “John Hancock” (Signature).  My classes practice signing their name in cursive weekly.

3- Call someone/family member to see where they are.  We use a phone app to locate them, ping them or check their profile.  I must admit this is a nice and convenient way to do it and as a parent of grown kids I love being able to track the progress of my kids when they are traveling.  It is nice to know where they are and they are safe.  Back in the day we actually picked up the phone and called and checked on people.  We spoke to them verbally to acknowledge that we were curious or wanted to know how they were doing and where they are at.  Remember, a good phone call with conversation goes a long ways and it may be the last time you speak to them.

4- We do not have conversations with people six feet from us.  I watch kids between classes while on duty or at lunch and they physically sit beside each other and type messages, chats and all that other stuff they do instead of talking to each other.  Go to a mall (after covid ends) and watch teenagers walk beside each other or sit at a table and send messages to each other instead of physically talking.  I will be at home and get a message from my wife or daughters who are like twenty feet away instead of simply saying “hey, blah, blah, blah”.  We must work on our communication skills because they are needed as adults on the job, in certain life situations and in the community.  Put the phone down and talk to people.

5- Telling time on a manual clock or alarm clock.  People have lost the skill of knowing what a clock is and how it works.  I actually had a student ask me onetime what that thing on the wall was behind me.  I said that is a clock and he looked at me like I was crazy,  My students learn how to tell time, read a calendar and other life skills like that.  It is convenient to look at a watch or phone, but can they actually read a clock on the wall if they go into a business to see what time it is.  This sounds silly, but if we do not teach our kids these skills then these things will fade away with time and be a lost skill needed for life. Do they know how many months have 28 days (1), how many months have 30 days, 31 days and so on.  You may not see the importance, but I see it differently as knowing how many Fridays in a month may determine how many times you get paid weekly or bi-weekly.  Get my point yet.

6- Taking pictures and developing film.  I am aging myself with some of these things, but pictures are important.  They are a way we reminisce about the past, celebrate the good times and track the growth of our family.  I love being able to take an instant picture on my phone and post it to the world to see.  But how about picture albums, albums of older family photos, home movies on CD’s and DVD’s.  When my parents passed away we found so many family photos and albums my mom had put together.  She had one each of my brothers and I and many others with all kinds of great memories.  I thank her for that effort and for knowing how important those pictures would be someday.  I am not knocking digital technology and the use of mass picture keeping in iCloud.  But to sit and look at actual photos taken through the years to me make them priceless.

7- Listening to good records and albums on a record player.  This is a niche market and some folks are really into older music and buying albums.  I still have many of my favorite albums from growing up and they are awesome to listen to.  Some of my all time favorites I have are Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Pink Floyd, Molly Hatchet, ACDC, Elvis, Cheap Trick, Heart, Wild Cherry, and many old top 40 albums from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.  A new store opened near my house recently and I cannot wait to go check out their selection and grab a few good records from back in the day.  Modern music is really good, but anyone that grew up in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s knows the music was awesome and is still very valid to this day.  

8- Recording our favorite movies or shows on a tape.  I do not know of anyone that still does this, though I am sure they are out there.  We use DVR services and streaming services now because it is at our finger tips and very quick to access.  When my wife and I moved to our second home many years ago we had boxes of old tapes we had recorded television shows, movies and other stuff on.  We had great movies that can fill a great two hour time slot on any rainy day like Pretty Woman, Rambo, Top Gun, Pretty in Pink, Breakfast Club, Home Alone and so many more I cannot think of right now.  Now we just log into our paid service and stream it or pay a few bucks and watch it on the television.  I know this may not come back strong, but sitting and watching a good old movie is family time worth doing.

9- Run to the store for a last minute gift or go shopping.  People still shop brick and mortar stores and go to Walmart, etc.  But now we just pick up the phone and order it online or have a delivery service being it to us the next day.  We order it and ship it straight to the persons house and yes it is convenient.  But it also takes the art of finding that perfect item, gift or from the heart purchase out of the mix.  Guys, I am not talking about that anniversary day last minute trip to get the wife some flowers, candy and a card. My mom loved and lived to shop and she taught me and my brothers how to shop.  I love to go with my wife and just try to pick out some really cool stuff (I may not need) but its is cool and a great gift idea for someone.  

10- Writing checks to people and companies.  How annoying is it when you are in line at a store and an older person is writing a check for their groceries or food.  I am guilty of thinking the same thing and it has been a while since the wife and I wrote a check to someone.  But we do have a check book and on occasion writing a check is needed IMO.  When you purchase a large item like a car, truck or house you need that documentation in case something goes south later on.  That could mean getting a bank check or money order, but that documentation is needed for taxes, records and personal protection later on if a court issue arises or a dispute is filed.  I teach my kids at school how to write checks and balance a checking account so they have that ability as an adult.  Keeping a register is important to knowing how much you are spending.  Just swiping that debit card until the money is gone is often a way to get into debt, pay fees and run over the limit.

There are many things we have stopped doing and you could list them yourself.  Some of these you may still do and that is good.  Things like carrying cash, using a dictionary, using a pay phone, writing on paper, writing an actual letter, walking in and paying for gas and on and on.  These are items of convenience and technology makes it easier (most of the time) and quicker so we can move on to the next thing on our list of to do’s.  Slow down and make sure your kids do not forget or know how to do the “old school ways” of living.  They may need it Oneday as an adult when that phone battery goes dead or they need to sign their “John Hancock” to buy a home or car.

God Bless!

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