When it comes to knowing things, I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know a lot. Hell, I don’t even know if I can say I know much at all, considering how limited my view of life has been up until this point. But there are a couple of things I either know, or know I need to know, that many young people don’t know, that they should know, to improve themselves as a fellow young person, run-on sentences notwithstanding.
This is not a comprehensive list, nor a how-to bible on how to be better. It’s just a few ideas of things I’ve noticed that we 21st century twentysomethings are starting to suck at but may want to keep in mind to practice. Or just not completely forget how to do.
How to Drive Stick
Okay, I may be a little biased on this one. Anyone who knows me knows how happy I am driving my 5 speed. The fact that it’s way more fun and just so cool to drive a stick aside, there are still some pros to learning the age old skill that no one thinks they need.
Number one would be understanding how a car works, which I think is important to help maintain your car in the future and understanding what to expect from it. It’s easy not to think about how a car works and reacts when driving, but being cognizant of the functions of a motor vehicle can help you take care of the car and improve your driving, especially in the snow and ice.
Number two is it limits the ability to text/Facebook/Snapchat/Instagram/check email/online shop and drive at the same time, which is becoming an increasing issue as we travel more and rely on our mobile devices as much as we rely on our lungs. The amount of times I’ve almost been in an accident because either, A. the driver of another car was on their phone or B. the driver of the car I was riding in was on their phone is waytoofuckinghigh. If you can drive stick, play CandyCrush on your phone, not burn through your clutch and get to your location in one piece, then fine, you’re a better person than I. Play on your phone. You deserve it.
You also never know when you’ll need the skill, whether it be driving a friend’s car home from the bar or being on the run from the law in Europe (where they still value the stick shift) in a very Jason Bourne fashion.
Also it will make you feel like a rally driver and is just so damn cool.
How to Fix Stuff
We in the US live in a generally throwaway society. For the most part, when something breaks, we throw it away and buy a new one because it’s usually easier and cheaper to buy something new than to fix something old. Yay cheap imports.
Maybe I just have nerdy friends (sorry guys, but we’re all pretty nerdy, myself included), but I’ve noticed quite a lack of physical knowledge amongst people my age. I grew up in an old Victorian house, in which every weekend had a project in line for my dad to work on. I grew up watching and learning him work on stuff from plumbing to painting to building a porch. While I cannot yet do a lot of that myself, I have a groundwork knowledge of the tools and processes to do this.
A lot of people my age don’t. I’m not really sure why, other than it’s easier to either replace something that’s broken or have someone else do it. As far as the economy is concerned, that outlook may be the best overall, but I still value the feeling of building or fixing something myself by hand.
Fixing our own objects can not only save us money (yay) but also can bring a sense of pride and accomplishment. If you’ve never fixed or built something by hand and felt the pride of knowing you did it, regardless of how well, you should try it. I recommend it.
Also, chicks dig it (I think?).
How to Research Without Google
I’m going to tell you about a magical place, a mystical place, full of wonder, mystery, suspense, love and all the answers you crave: the library.
Okay that sounds dumb, but what’s worse is how few people actually use their town library.
Right now, if I have a question, I can swipe my iPhone open, go to the Google search app I have on my home screen, type it in and get my answer; which is amazing. Knowledge is easier to obtain today than ever before, which is great for educating the masses. It’s also bad for actually learning stuff.
When is the last time you were interested in a subject and just read a book about it? For that matter, would you know how to find the book you want without the help of a computer in a library? Would you even know where to begin to understand what kind of book you want?
I can’t answer all those questions myself because I don’t even know how to do all that, which is kind of sad. That-there book-learnin’ they used to do in the old days really had something goin’ for it: people really learned stuff. In the process of trying to learn one thing, you can easily learn 10 things. There’s nothing wrong with knowing more, ever.
Additionally, in the not-so-unlikely chance that Terminator becomes a reality and the machines take away all our online capabilities, no one is going to know how to learn anymore. And if Idiocracy has any true foresight our libraries will probably be turned into fast food joints by then.
How to Cook (At Least One Cool Dish)
How many people do you know have a weekly meal itinerary that looks something like this:
Monday – Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
Tuesday – Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
Wednesday – Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and hot dogs
Thursday – Kraft Macaroni and Cheese…
Well that may be a bit of an exaggeration but I know a lot of fellow twentysomethings that have quite limited food making capabilities or interests. I’m no personal chef myself, but I do enjoy making some unique food and breaking up the monotony of a typical meal schedule.
It’s tough when we work a lot and have social and personal commitments, but cooking real and good food is worth the extra time and effort. Plus knowing at least one cool dish to bring somewhere can make you the hit of a party.
Maybe it’s your personal chili recipe you bring to Sunday football parties, a rendition of an Indian dish you love and love to share with your friends, or the best cookies to bring to a friend when they’re feeling down. Being able to make something cool and unique not only breaks up your food schedule and, but will increase the likelihood you’ll try making new things in the future.
Trust me, your tastebuds and friends will thank you. And maybe bug you for more.
How to Navigate Without GPS
If I had to choose between a girl or my iPhone as a life partner, I may have to choose my iPhone; Siri just gets me, and I know I can (usually) rely on her to get me where I want to go in life. She’ll also not break up with me on my birthday, and will always be able to tell me the location of the closest burrito joint, alongside where to find beer and even call my friends for me.
But mostly it’s the direction, and I know I’m not alone in relying too heavily on my GPS in my phone. This first hit me one day when I was running late for a date in Cambridge. My phone overheated in the July sun and my GPS crashed. And I had no idea fucking where I was.
Luckily I had a small map screen-shotted on my phone, and asked a nice lady for directions who kindly told me to “take a right on rivah street, take a left on pahk and you’re they-ah.” After that, I realized, I should know where the hell I’m going, regardless of where my destination is.
This same week, my brother admitted to us he didn’t understand where I-495 was, or what I-95 was. These are the two major highways that cut through my town, and literally take us anywhere and everywhere we need to go. He just knew them by the maps on his GPS.
Back in the day, everyone had a map of the areas they frequent or may frequent in their cars. Now, everyone has an iPhone and reading a map is something few know how to do (myself included). It’s a skill left for the Boy Scouts and old timers of the world but shouldn’t be forgotten, because when Terminator comes knocking he’ll be turning Siri against us. I guarantee it.
How to Talk to People
Okay, this is one I know every young person has heard their parents/grandparents/any elder in their life complain about, but it’s definitely true: we don’t know how to talk to each other (as well) today. I don’t mean in a manner in which we cannot communicate, but that we have a hard time communication and just enjoying each other’s presence.
I went out with a friend a few years ago on what could be considered a friendly date. We sat down at the bar, ordered a few beers and had a conversation for about an hour. I didn’t think much of it until the bartender, a very old man likely past the age of regular retirement, came up to us as we were leaving and said “it’s so nice to see a young couple actually enjoy each other’s presence on a date, and not just on your phones the entire time.” And that hit home. I didn’t realize we didn’t have our phones out, but thinking back on it, it was enjoyable because we just enjoyed one another’s company, with phones happily in pockets.
Now when I go out I try and make it a point to keep my phone away, and I can understand how hard it is. It’s so easy to quickly check then get engrossed in your life online. Since I’ve become consciously aware of this, it bothers me more when others do it. There’s nothing more frustrating than being out on a date, or dinner with friends or family, and trying to have a conversation while someone decides they must Instagram this, or check Tinder, or Facebook or start a game of Candy Crush. Doing so indirectly tells you that’s more important than this conversation. Even if that’s not what you mean when you do that, it’s what’s implied.
Yet in today’s social media centric world, being social is half about being connected. The only issue with being constantly connected with the online world is being disconnected from the world right in front of you. Deep stuff.
This list is just food for thought, for myself included. I’m sure there are 400 million other skills and things us twentysomethings in the 21st century are blatantly missing, and I’m sure I’ll add to it or make a new one later on. Please comment with any skills you think we’re missing as young people in the 21st century, and in between Snapchats and Instagram posts I’ll take a look and add them to the list.