9 Skills That Will Be Obsolete Soon


As technology evolves, certain careers are replaced with new ones. For instance, children used to be employed as pinsetters in bowling alleys; the automated pin-setting machine made that job vanish pretty quickly. Before alarm clocks, "knocker uppers" would walk the streets tapping on windows to get people out of bed. And at night, lamplighters would walk around igniting gas-fueled street lamps.

But beyond jobs, certain skills also get replaced as technology moves ever forward. So what are some modern skills that will soon be rendered obsolete? Here are nine that are quickly becoming extinct.

1. A Sense of Direction

Two words — Google Maps. You may be able to navigate around your city like a cab driver around the streets of London, but who cares? With the maps app on your phone, you can get to anywhere you want. There are no wrong turns, no dead ends, and no traffic delays. Everything is synced up to GPS, and you can be a complete newbie to the town or city you're in, and still get where you're going like you've lived there for 50 years. This is great news for people like me, who continue to get lost on the way to work.

2. Parallel Parking

Some people are really good at it. Most of us are okay. Some are terrible. You may be one of those people that brags about your parallel parking skills, but soon you'll be impressing no one. Many higher-end vehicles already come with park assist, but as technology gets less expensive, it migrates to other cars, and is currently available as an option on the Toyota Prius and the Ford Focus. Yes… the Ford Focus. Give it a few years, and every car will be a perfect parallel parker. And driving itself, when that gets replaced by driverless cars, could also become a skill of the past.

3. Flirting

Really!? Well, perhaps not entirely. There will always be the need to do the dance, using body language, eye contact, all of that. But these days, online dating apps like Tinder, OK Cupid, Plenty Of Fish, and many more, are taking a lot of the hard work out of meeting people in bars and clubs. After all, why risk the rejection when you have a guaranteed date waiting? And not only that, but a date you know a whole lot about, including likes, dislikes, pets, and anything else you want to look up. There are guidebooks out there telling guys how to pick up women, and they are starting to lose their appeal. Quickly.

4. Cursive Writing

Although it is still being taught in schools, cursive writing is rarely used outside of the classroom. Think about it… when was the last time you wrote anything in cursive? In fact, when was the last time you wrote anything by hand, other than a quick shopping list or note letting someone know you'd be back in 10 minutes? Technology has eliminated the need for cursive writing; we use a keyboard for almost everything, and not just reports, emails, and other documents. From online diaries and blogs, to notepads on smartphones and tablets, keyboards are making cursive go the way of the dodo.

5. Mental Arithmetic

So, this is not discounting the work of mathematicians and scientists; those skills will always be needed by society. However, for most of us, the ability to do calculations in our heads is quickly becoming a task we'd much rather do on our phones. We have this computer on us almost everywhere we go, so why bother crunching the numbers ourselves when a calculator app can do it in half the time, and with certainty? Lazy it may be, but we always take the path of least resistance.

6. Memorization

As with mental arithmetic, having a great memory (which is a learnable skill, by the way) is also becoming obsolete thanks to smartphones. It is very rare to be with a bunch of friends and have that "Oh… what was the name of that actor who was in that movie?" kinda question get answered with a chorus of "Hang on, I know this one." Instead, we pull it up on IMDB. The same goes for anything that requires looking into the archives of our minds, from phone numbers and addresses, to recipes and birthdays. It's all available to us at the touch of a button.

7. Spelling

Pretty soon, the only use for being an excellent speller will be to win a spelling bee. It doesn't matter if you cannot spell even the simplest words, your phones and computers have spell checking built into almost everything you use. It's not just in Microsoft Word, but emails, messaging apps, and even design programs. Just look for the little red wavy line, and voila, click to correct. You may be able to spell floccinaucinihilipilification after seven pints of foaming ale, but it's not going to be a skill you need in everyday life.

8. Physical Networking

Remember the days when you had to attend functions, meeting people in your field in order to increase your circle of business colleagues? Well, these days you can do it all over the Internet. Sites like LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed and many others are making it very easy to reach out and find new jobs, or careers. And if you need to hire a professional, you've got millions of people just a click away. There will always be company functions, but that handshake, smile, and charm won't be needed anymore. You can do it all while you're sitting at your desk, or at home while you're watching the game.

9. Filing Hard Copies

There was a real art to filing information, and if you were good at it, you made your own life (and that of your employer) much easier. These days, it can almost all be done on a computer, using filing software that does all the hard work for you. Yes, you may be required to keep hard files on occasion, but even that is being replaced by digital copies. Pretty soon, filing cabinets will be in a museum right next to buggy whips and PDAs.

What common skills do you see becoming obsolete soon?

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Guest's picture

Yep...but we're setting ourselves up. We keep hearing more and more often about hacking into grids and systems. When a major hack comes...few of the above replacements for the old skills will work. Unfortunately after current generations are "educated", they'll be SOL.

Max Wong's picture

I was put up for a job as a researcher last year, solely based on the fact that I can read and write cursive--something that many college students now cannot do. Up until the last century, many important documents were handwritten, and there are many, many documents that have never been converted to type. The inability to read the handwritten word is a terrible skill to lose for students of history or language...or anyone who wants to find pirate treasure.

Guest's picture


Guest's picture

All the formentioned skills are still being used daily by billions of people. A sense of direction is as much about 'wheres the nearest exit' as it is about google maps and gps.

Park assist does not absolve a driver from his/her responsibilities (and in fact limits their abilities as they don't get as much practice as they need to control their vehicle).

Flirting has nothing to do with how much information you have gathered about a person and a lot more about reacting to the moment.

I write (cursive) on a daily basis, making small notes that actually grab my attention instead of a device that has to grab it for me, and then doesn't for whatever reason.

As for doing numbers in your head, it is so much faster than grabbing some device, starting the appropriate app and entering the data.

Most of the search engines can't find what I'm looking for half the time, because most of them are based more on what others have looked for and advertisement (Bing is a great example, but Google is not perfect either).

As for spell checking, if you can't be bothered checking your own spelling it's either not important enough to you or your target reader.

As for virtual presence, unless it' s either not important (to you) or you have a really good reason not to be there in person, you should probably not use it.

And finally, there are a 1001 reasons I can think of why hard copies should always exist, some of which are legal, most are scientific.

Technology is here to help us; Tools that should never lead our lives for us. And they don't take over responsibility or provide us with valid excuses. The problem I have with pieces like this is that in practice, most people drop their own responsibilities in favor of blaming a device, feature or program even though they have very little knowledge on how it works (in a general sense). Park assist doesn't stop the car when a kid crawls under it (unless its from behind), spell checking can't plug holes in a legal document. I like it when the guy behind the counter already has my change in his hand when I pay him, or getting lost in a strange city. I like seeing things I didn't know were there because I took a wrong turn, because I do have a sense of direction (granted, not a really good one), which keeps me from panicking and allows me to be excited...

Guest's picture

Agreed 100%

Guest's picture
Bee Good

I disagree with most of this. Direction: if you allow Google to take you there in Israel you may end up dead. I have seen it direct me into Palestinian villages more than once. Web dating is a pain if you are in the over 50 age group. After you find a match you still need to flirt when you actually meet. Cursive writing: if you don't learn it you can't read it. I love the fact that my signiture is beautiful and uniquely mine.
Filing hard copies: I teach in a hospital. I want the patients to go home with information. I have a wide variety of handouts to provide them information. These are kept in an orderly file cabinet. Every research lab keeps its original data which was hand written, either in notebooks or in file cabinets. Mental arithmetic: my brain has the answer before you turn on your calculator app! My boss has an old fashioned calculator on his desk, he is amazed at my accuracy and speed. If you can't deal with numbers don't go into sciences. Why do people want to leave all the thinking to someone/something else?

Guest's picture

Hey, the comments you are trying to make tells us that you would rather things be the same than to have improvement.

If humanity had thinked like you, we will be in the stone age or perhaps even live like animals for ever because of our reluctance to improve. Perhaps you should go live in a cave or on top of a tree ?

Guest's picture

Ah this makes me sad. I also felt like losing these skills lately, relieved to know that I'm not the only one but still, sad. Yes, your list sums it up 0.0

Guest's picture

This rings very true even in the academic sector. I however am if the opinion that the system should modify the syllabus to inculcate mind challenging activities like calculations and spell check, the ability to do this us why you are getting an education in the first place.
An uneducated person can justify been mentally lazy (mastering the various technologies alone is a challenge) but for an educated person, technology starts controlling you when you let it do it all.
Like physical exercise, mental exercise us essential and these mental laziness must be checked early as we seem to currently be raising gadget nerds.
I always tell my boys, someone invented those gadgets so spend time understanding it not just using it, this guarantees the gadget has a short lifespan but my son discover the inner components and what happens when specific parts fall out.

Guest's picture

When these skills are actually and totally lost will be the day tha civilization comes to an end.

Guest's picture

Author of this article is just simply telling us it's ok when our youngsters grow up without handwriting skills, without ability to read even paper map( when my cell gave up on me I did use old style paper map). Another highly sophisticated and highly educated person with lack of experience and empathy for other people.They are not only young, beautiful, self-centred people, they are also people in their 30-40 and up who grew up with handwriting and also they are old folks who are in assisted living pl. and nursing homes who don't use internet or any of that, they use handwriting, if still can. When Tv was invented they forecast end of radio era. Thank God it did not happened:) So I take it with reserve. Good luck to you in your instant world.

Guest's picture

I've been with LinkedIn since the beginning, I've never gotten a job through them. Heck, I've not even landed an interview through them.
Sense of direction and a compass are useful skills when you are in the wilderness.
Memorization - it's still faster to get info from your brain than google/your phone. Especially if you are with a discount carrier!
Spelling - my phone's autocorrect makes way more spelling mistakes than i do. It comes up with some very entertaining guesses as to what I am trying to type. "The" became "thirteen strawberries" just yesterday. I had to backspace over it and type "The" 3 times before it got the hint.

I agree with 3 and 9. Especially 9.

Guest's picture

All kids should be taught many of the above skills. If not at school, then at home.

How are we to know the truth if we cannot read it because it is in cursive or speak it because we don't use anything but TEXT-SPEAK and couldn't write or read plain English if we tried? Can we keep from being cheated if we can't even do rudimentary sums in our head? How do we remember mistakes in history and our private lives if our memory and retention of facts and details is lacking?

Our technological world is a house of cards. It only takes one glitch for things to collapse across the planet.

I don't know about you, but MY kids are being taught how to live a normal life without the need for GPS or a smart phone or Facebook or even the web if it comes to that.

Yes, they know and can use all those things. After all, we don't live in a horse and buggy world. But they won't go catatonic and helpless if those things cease to exist.

They'll be the ones getting on with life while the rest of the little under educated, tech enslaved drones are running around and screaming in panic. :-)