Friday, September 23, 2011

Participate: What Do You Know?

A conversation with a friend recently got me thinking about what I know.  Well, about what I know I know.  Those things I can do.  The things, the thoughts, the processes that I understand and can explain.

She mentioned that there are lots of things she thinks people think she should be able to do, but she's never done those things.  Like changing a tire on a car.  She has never done it.  But she should be able to, right?

Stop and take a minute to think about all of the things you can do.  Pretty amazing, huh?

Now take your individual skill set back in time a hundred years.  How is your ability to navigate the Internet going to help you?  How will you explain the concept of a wireless device to Joe 1911?  Can you translate your ability to multitask between document crafting, e-mail writing, Facebook stalking, web surfing, and blog following to any tasks that existed just a short hundred years ago?

But wait.  What about all of those things people did a hundred or two hundred years ago that you have never done.  Are you comfortable saddling a horse and caring for that horse as your major form of transportation (or even pleasure riding)?  Would you know how to churn butter or skim cream off warm milk?  Can you pickle and preserve vegetables to last through the winter? What about polishing silver with non-commercial cleaners or crank-starting a car or making clothes?

Now you're thinking about all of those things you can't do, right?

It makes me mad when older generations call younger generations "stupid" or "inferior" or "worthless and lazy" without considering the changes of time and space.  I've had coworkers and other older adults get frustrated when I tell them that I have no clue how to diagram a sentence (or drive a stick-shift car).  I didn't have to learn that in school. Instead of learning sentence diagramming, I was busy with four years of French, learning every instrument I could get my hands on, advanced math classes, and instant messaging my friends (ICQ!, waaaaay before text messages) every chance I could get.  It doesn't mean I'm stupid or inferior, it just means I haven't had the opportunity to learn that skill yet.

What can you do that amazes people around you--and where did you learn how to do that?  What can't you do that you wish you could do (money not being an issue, legality still important)?  What things or processes do you think people have forgotten about that we should re-learn?

1 comment:

MissKris said...

Being very proficient with 10-key even tho I'm totally left-handed...I was forced to learn it back before discrimination laws went into effect; I wish I could play the piano, and play it very well; I wish snail mail letters were still in vogue. I used to have tons of pen pals growing up and there was such a thrill to find a new letter in the mailbox. I get very few now, but when I do, the thrill is still there.