Technology usually makes our lives easier. It also makes it so we don’t have to practice a few basic skills. After years of smartphone use, many of us can’t even remember a phone number.
It’s easy to cry wolf and lament for days gone by. People love to argue before technology ruled our lives, we were happier, smarter, and better at general living.
This fluffy vision of the past is a bit too rose tinted, but the point remains we have lost some basic human skills over the years. Relearning them makes us a little less dependent on technology, flexes our brain muscles, and gives us an opportunity to interact with the world. You don’t have to be a luddite to appreciate most of these skills and getting them back is easy enough for even the most technologically reliant amongst us.
Today we’ll discuss some of the skills we’ve lost to technology and how to get them back.
First, let’s address the GPS. It’s easy to get addicted to turn-by-turn navigation. Not only does it guide you through a city, it also helps you avoid traffic jams and find faster routes. It’s helpful in a lot of ways, especially if you live in a city where traffic is an ongoing problem.
But over-reliance on turn-by-turn navigation has its downfalls. The most obvious is when your battery dies and leaves you stranded. You might also lose your data connection in the middle of nowhere or your maps app might just send you off into the completely wrong direction. In a worst-case scenario, you’ll end up lost with no idea how to get back. This isn’t just a driving problem, it’s a problem with navigating a city in general. In fact, your battery is way more likely to die when you’re out on foot or on a bike.
To wean yourself off the GPS, start by just looking at the traffic, but otherwise leave the turn-by-turn navigation off. Find landmarks to give you a sense of direction (or look to satellite dishes if you’re confused). Get a paper map of your city and use it. Keep your head up when you’re moving through the city and pay attention to it more instead of blindly following directions. These tips work just as well when you’re on vacation in a new city. Find your hotel’s landmark, then hit the streets exploring without relying on GPS. You might be surprised at how much cool hidden stuff you find.
Speaking of getting lost with a dead phone, not knowing a single person’s phone number can put you in a serious bind. Have you memorized a single person’s phone number since you got a cell phone?
A lot of different tricks are out there to help you memorize numbers. My favorite is to just delete those numbers from your address book so you’re forced to memorize them. Mnemonics also work, as do songs. You can even use an app like Eidetic to help you remember numbers through forced repetition. You can also just use the voice dialer to dial by number instead of name. You should have at least a couple emergency numbers beyond 911 memorized. You never know when you’ll need them.
Speaking of phone numbers, another skill we’ve lost to technology is simply talking to each other, friends as well as strangers. We used to talk to strangers out of necessity, but nowadays it’s easy to ignore just about anyone out in the world. We even neglect talking to a cashier by going through automated self-checkout lines.
Surprisingly though, talking to strangers has all kinds of benefits. Getting to know your neighbors can positively affect your health, improve your mood on a commute, and expand your worldview.
To get these basic human skills back, you’ll need to set up a set up rules for yourself. Instead of messing around on your phone when you’re on your commute, see if someone wants to chat with you or at least look up sometimes. Stop pulling out your phone during every single piece of downtime you have throughout the day and talk to the people around you