As time goes on, culture changes as new technologies arise and new technologies are made to adapt to changes in culture. Whether people try to resist it or not, that change is constant because nothing in the world truly stands still. But when enough of those changes happen, what once existed can seem almost alien.
But while younger generations may adopt styles and cultural artifacts from the past, certain skills and devices often fall by the wayside. And even if they knew how to use these techniques, that doesn't necessarily mean they'd want to.
Unless travelers wanted to be hopelessly lost on their road trips, they needed to invest in a road map. These tore easily, and they were always a little cumbersome to fold back up, but they were detailed enough to give drivers a good idea of where they were going.
But of course, maps are even easier to use when they're accessed with a phone and essentially plan a person's route for them. They're not perfect, but GPS systems have led most millennials and younger drivers to forego paper maps entirely.
Typing on a typewriter
Since much of the modern keyboard is based on elements from typewriters, it's not impossible for a person who's never used one to figure it out for the most part. But while it's true that some younger people who either love vintage tools or consider themselves serious writers might use them, they're largely in the minority.
So, as a result, it's generally not hard to determine someone's age by whether or not they know what a carriage return is.
Balancing a checkbook
For many decades, balancing a checkbook was something every household needed to do each month. It involved adding up all debit and credit transactions over the period and comparing them with bank statements.
This skill not only allowed people to budget effectively but made them aware of any discrepancies or suspicious activity. These results made it worth the arduous balancing process, but it's hard to see things that way in modern times since all of this information can be accessed much quicker through online banking.
While it's perhaps not fair to say that ironing is a completely dead practice among the youth, it is nonetheless true that fewer people seem to own irons or know how to use them than ever before.
According to The Guardian, this is not only because people are more accepting of creases in their clothing than they used to be but also because modern manufacturing techniques often produce clothes that don't typically require ironing.
Driving with a manual transmission
How relevant the ability to drive a stick is to modern life seems to depend a lot on the region a person lives in. Because while stick shifts remain common in Europe among other parts of the world, they're typically less common in the United States and Canada nowadays.
According to Reader's Digest, about 96% of Americans use automatic transmissions. Since car manufacturers find it a hassle to offer both kinds of vehicles, they're waiting for that number to reach 100%. A possible reason for this divide is that North Americans are more likely to multi-task behind the wheel, which is much easier with an automatic transmission.
For whatever reason, cursive writing seems to be a generational battleground as some states now don't consider it necessary to teach, while others are bent on making it a compulsory part of their school curriculum.
But whether they learn it or not, many people don't typically find themselves using cursive writing once they come of age. Not only are more people apt to use laptops to take notes now, but even signatures are increasingly being added to documents digitally.
Using rotary phones
For those who have spent their lives punching in the numbers of the people they want to call, the idea of using a rotary phone can come as a bit of an adjustment. Indeed, it feels more like opening a combination lock than using a telephone.
But since rotary phones aren't compatible with any phone menu that tells callers to press buttons, there aren't likely to be many situations where younger people would need to know this.
Cooking according to a recipe box
Although it's easy to understand why some older technologies and skills wouldn't be used anymore, those blessed with a box filled with old family recipes should definitely consider keeping them.
Because while many people have filled that gap with meal kit delivery services and more take-out, there's so much personality and creativity in how relatives combined ingredients to create special meals that it would be a shame to lose them.
For many decades, the idea of mass-producing cheap clothing on the scale that exists now would have been hard to imagine. So since clothing was more consistently expensive, knowing how to sew was a must to put off buying new outfits.
But considering how destructive and disappointing the whole fast fashion paradigm is nowadays, this is one skill that could use a comeback.
Using a phone book
While it wasn't unusual for people to just memorize their closest friends' phone numbers before smartphones made that unnecessary, any phone number they didn't know could often be found in a phone book.
And while phone books are fairly straightforward in their current diminished capacity, they used to be much bigger. So people had to flip heavy clumps of pages whenever they wanted to switch between the residential and business listings.
Because no digital photography or videography quite achieves the warm aesthetic of film, there are likely still young artists somewhere making the conscious decision to develop their photographic works in dark rooms.
But of course, that's not exactly common behavior nowadays. And considering that the alternative is to instantly see how a photo turned out on a phone or digital camera, it's not hard to see why. That effort and cost aren't worth it to everyone.
While there's no doubt that many throughout the younger generations are perfectly capable of composing a thoughtful letter, they're not usually sending it by mail. Although there is a romantic, nostalgic history of anticipating correspondence from a loved one, that process goes by so much faster now.
Whether it's through texting, email, or social media, any message someone wants to communicate can reach its intended recipient almost instantly. But on those rare occasions when younger people need to figure out the postage required to send something, it's not unusual for them to defer to their parents or grandparents.
It's not exactly that the techniques inherent in courtship have entirely gone away, but it can be a little hard to recognize them compared to their modern variants. As PBS explained, courtship was a period in which prospective couples dated for a long period intended to determine their compatibility. This often happened in the company of a chaperone, like the grandmother pictured here.
Although this process isn't typically so formalized now because divorces are far more attainable than they used to be, even dating apps didn't completely kill some of its concepts. Couples do still enter "talking stages" before they actually meet, and it's not unusual to have friends watching in the vicinity to ensure the date proceeds safely.
Setting an alarm clock
Although it's unlikely that people will ever stop needing alarms to wake up, most people either tend to set one on their phones or use the settings on a digital clock.
But setting a classic, analog alarm clock takes an entirely different skill set. To do so, one has to know which knob or key in the back of the clock sets the minute hand, which one sets the hour hand, and which one sets the actual alarm without looking at them. Also, they're prepared for the fact that the alarm goes off twice a day.
Although it's not quite accurate to say that young people don't sunbathe, it's something that's done both less frequently and with more protection than the Baby Boomers would have had in decades past.
Because according to a 2022 article in the Proceedings of Baylor University Medical Center, it wasn't until the 1990s that sunscreen with significant protection against the Sun's UV rays became widely available. Before then, frequent sunbathing came with a serious risk of skin cancer, whether people knew it or not.
Fax machines haven't completely disappeared from modern life, as it's not unusual for certain businesses to still use them. However, most people will never need a personal fax machine at home.
But that wasn't always the case because faxes were once one of the faster ways to send someone a message. But since the internet has long done most of its non-office related jobs better, the majority of people won't hit many roadblocks by not knowing how to use a fax machine.
Using a dictionary
Whether people like it or not, language is always evolving and once a change in language becomes widespread enough, the people behind the Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries will update their collection of the many words in the English language.
However, trawling through a massive book to find a half-remembered word is neither convenient for the reader nor the publisher, as publishing a whole new edition to keep up with language tends to get expensive. For that reason, dictionary use happens online more often than not nowadays.
Using fine China
Although there are many collectibles from the Baby Boom and before that required delicate care to pass on to the next generation, perhaps the most common example was a set of fine China. Not only did it require finesse to keep these valuable items intact, but there was also the matter of finding the right occasions to use them.
However, most Millennials will find that they don't have much use for fine China due to smaller living spaces, efforts to reduce clutter, and changing tastes. And it doesn't help that since so much fine China was made, most of it isn't worth much anymore.
Using the card catalog at a library
Libraries remain an important (if often embattled) public resource for knowledge, but tracking down a book in one always involves using a computer. Not only was that not always the case, but libraries used the printed (and sometimes even handwritten) card catalog system for over a century.
Many old books have a slot that once fit a card, and that card corresponded with a directory composed of large drawers that visitors searched through to find the books they wanted. However, nobody can blame Millennials for not adopting this system now because the Smithsonian Magazine noted that, like it or not, it was completely discontinued in 2015.
Fixing cassette tapes
Under optimal circumstances, using a cassette tape didn't require much skill. As long as the tape wasn't upside down, it was as simple as putting it in the machine and hitting "play." But the real skills were learned after something went wrong with that tape.
Depending on whether it was unspooled, torn, or just needed to be manually rewound, there was a process that could involve anything from a pencil to a screwdriver to splicing tape, depending on the objective at hand. But as clever as these fixes were, society found moving on to a more reliable medium easier.
Walking in Stiletto heels
The enduring popularity of their aesthetic has compelled people to put up with the sprained ankles and general foot pain that comes with wearing Stiletto heels for decades. And considering that even some professional models will fall over in these shoes, anyone who says wearing them isn't a skill should try it themselves.
But while heeled shoes remain immensely popular, the CBC reported that many modern women are considering these extreme heels more trouble than they're worth. And the Canadian province of British Columbia's government seems to agree, as they have banned employers from requiring them in dress codes since 2017.
Operating overhead projectors
Despite how some teachers made it seem, using overhead projectors wasn't as easy as turning it on and slipping some paper in the right place. Before any of that happened, the user had to go to the trouble of printing what they wanted to show everyone on clear sheets called transparencies.
However, the teachers and professors used to doing that shouldn't feel too smug. Because more than would likely care to admit have needed the help of a tech-savvy student to operate more computerized projectors.
Doing math mentally
Math is either something people find easy or frustrating, so it wouldn't be a surprise to learn that scores of Millennials and Gen Zers can do calculations in their heads without reaching for the calculators on their phones.
However, that technology has become so ubiquitous that those who struggle to do this no longer have to try. It wasn't so long ago that this wasn't the case, and most people had to figure out tipping percentages in their heads.
Using a compass
When there are no identifiable landmarks around, a compass can be a life-saving tool to let travelers find their way through a natural environment. But it's also not something everyone knows to use, let alone possess.
Again, GPS systems are the most heavily relied upon way to get to a given destination, and even where that fails, many phones do come with a compass feature. But the important difference is that compasses use magnets instead of batteries, which also makes it important to know the difference between true north and magnetic north.
Whether or not younger men have the skills required to shave is largely immaterial nowadays. And that's because more and more of them simply don't have the inclination.
Throughout the last decade, beards have become more desirable than ever, which means that it's becoming more common to groom a beard than to shave it off.
Although cobblers certainly still exist, theirs is a dying art in many ways, and much of their work is limited to quality shoes that people want to keep as long as possible. But while this sentiment has allowed remaining cobblers to stay in business, it's not widespread enough to inspire many new ones to take up the trade.
As shoe repair shop owner Mourad Ohanian told the Los Angeles Daily News, "I used to have young people walk into my shop every week asking if I was hiring? They wanted to learn the profession. I haven't had anyone ask me that in 10 or 15 years."
Putting up wallpaper
During certain past decades, wallpaper designs were popular enough to make the difficult and painstaking process of pasting it to walls with doing. But while there was always a contingent who hated doing this, their side has effectively won in the modern world. Most younger homeowners are more likely to consider it easier, more practical, and more aesthetically pleasing to paint walls instead.
And while The Seattle Times reported that simpler application procedures that allow decorators to stick wallpaper on directly have given the decoration style a comeback, the damage has largely been done.
Using TV aerials
Before the advent of cable and satellite television, people could only get a TV signal through aerial antennae in or on their houses.
This hardware could be finicky, which meant that people often had to put them as high as possible and even coat them with tin foil to get the clearest signal. Not that it tended to matter if it was stormy outside. This hassle is a good reminder that not everybody misses having to use certain skills.
Although taking notes quickly has long been made easier with typing, such a skill was necessary in many contexts long before even the typewriter was invented. So to keep meeting minutes and other time-intensive notes, people used to write out symbols that were supposed to denote whole words and concepts in a system known as shorthand.
But since typing started making this system mostly unnecessary a long time ago, it's not uncommon for younger people to treat shorthand like ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs when they see it.
Tuning a radio
Although cars still typically come equipped with standard terrestrial radio, it's nonetheless true that most younger people aren't wading through the fuzz between stations to find something worth listening to.
Whether they're loading up a podcast or their Spotify playlists, they're typically seeking more personalized listening experiences rather than accepting whatever radio hosts and programming directors think is interesting or entertaining.