James Lileks: The boomer skills have outlived their usefulness

James Lileks, Star Tribune on

Published in Lifestyles

Sometimes you see a link to an article headlined "50 things Boomers Did That Are Useless Now," and you cannot resist. You know you will click through 100 pages interspersed with ads for toe-fungus cures and drugs that promise to make your belly fat vanish with this One Trick Doctors Hate (It's Genius). But I had to check it out.

As a late boomer, I'm sure I'd get all mad about Kids Today and their breezy, confident contempt for the days when it took 30 seconds to dial 911 on a rotary phone, but perhaps I'd learn something, too.

Let's review the highlights.

• It's no secret that boomers grew up in a time when things were totally different. For those in their 50s or above, technology wasn't around when they were growing up.

No technology! Stones and sticks for us. Holes in the floorboards so we could use our feet to push the car.

• Boomers grew up learning things that millennials simply do not need to know. Typing, for instance.


I know, right? Who types these days? LOL.

• Balancing a checkbook, reading a map — all of those skills that boomers spent their precious youth mastering are now obsolete.

We did not spend our youth mastering map-reading. You'd be surprised how easy it is, how quickly one can pick up the concept and apply it to completely different maps.

No, we spent our youth learning how to refold a map, which is a great character-builder. You could just jam it in the glovebox. But you knew you should refold it neatly. The folders have ordered and productive lives. The jammers don't push their shopping carts all the way to the end of the corral. Savages.


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