The Internet has done wonders for modern civilization. We can connect with people all over the globe and read about world events as they happen. New skillsets have emerged as well as new jobs (Emoji Expert anyone?) that were relatively unthinkable only a generation ago. Yet this technology has sapped many of critical skills that are necessary to function in society. Technology always eliminates skills over time, after all how many of us need to have the ability to crank start our cars or work a steam-powered machine?

If you have talked to anyone on the Internet or used the text feature on your phone chances are you are familiar with the lexicon used, from lol to smh to ur. Much to the chagrin of many English teachers these are finding their way into normal conversation as well not to mention the skill that goes into spelling, which spell-check has eliminated. Interpersonal communication skills have diminished over the past generation. Social media provides much of the communication with the outside world that many people need but just the basic skill of carrying on a conversation is becoming a lost art to the point that many people use self-checkout options so they do not have to talk to the cashier. We get it, not everyone needs to know your life story but just saying hi can do wonders sometimes.

Have you ever seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? With his father’s diary in the hands of the Nazis Indiana Jones asks his dad why he doesn’t remember what he wrote. His father’s reply: “I wrote it down so I wouldn’t have to remember.” The Internet is doing the same thing. With information at everyone’s fingertips people are choosing to no longer remember valuable information. Many students place test information in short term memory and forget it as soon as the examination is over. Memory is critical for the skill of learning and committing information to long term memory is necessary to have the skill of critical thinking. Remember, those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

Alright, raise you hand if you have a GPS in your car. Keep your hand up if you also have a road atlas. Chances are you put your hand down. GPS is great, we get turn by turn directions and it can help avoid major traffic jams. Because of its ease of use the skill of being able to read a road atlas has dropped dramatically as has many people’s sense of direction. What will you do if the GPS unit runs out of batteries or when you are out walking? More brainpower is used while using a road atlas and by keeping your brain occupied and challenged can even slow Alzheimer’s Disease.

My handwriting is terrible, I’ll be the first to admit. My dad’s and my grandfather’s handwriting was also lousy. Yet when I use a computer my handwriting comes out in perfect Arial, Courier or Times New Roman font. The only time I ever write anything out is to sign my name so its is becoming a lost skill for me and for many others. The computer has decimated the skill of not only penmanship but neat penmanship. It is probably no coincidence that my mom, who has never touched a computer, has beautiful handwriting.

We’ve all used some sort of aid when doing mathematics, be it a slide-rule or a calculator. For much more simpler calculations it used to be more of a hassle to punch them in, it was easier to figure them out using brainpower. Today that is not quite true. Many choose just to use a calculator or their computer to answer mathematical questions even something like simple addition or subtraction. Basic math skills are necessary to function in society, and while no one is expecting you to figure out calculus in your head, it is embarrassing to have to do simple math on a calculator.

There are many other skills that the Internet has eliminated or is eliminating. Some are not bad but some are beginning to cause problems within society. Perhaps it would be best for all of us to unplug even for an hour. It would be a start.

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