20 Human Skills That Used to Be Important But The World No Longer Needs

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By Jonathan Trent

It’s a sad reality that many once important skills have quickly become useless—and we mainly have technology to thank for that. With the digital world swiftly overtaking the manual, here are 20 skills that used to be crucial but are no longer needed.

Phone Number Memorization

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Remember how impressive you felt when you had your friend’s cell number learned by heart or knew your landline number without hesitation? Nowadays, memorizing any phone number simply isn’t needed. Smartphones and digital contact lists have made phone number recall a less impressive skill.

Map Reading Skills

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GPS technology has definitely been a game changer and vital for staying safe on the road. Yet, as many of our parents will tell us, reading physical route maps on the car’s passenger seat was a much-needed skill. Now, reading a paper map isn’t something many people do.

Hand Sewing

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According to Stephenie Piper via LinkedIn, hand sewing is a rare skill these days. That isn’t to say that basic sewing skills aren’t still useful for minor repairs, but overall, the need for hand sewing isn’t as extensive anymore, thanks to affordable clothing and mass-produced items.


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We used to handwrite many things in our daily lives, such as our notes in school books, which were handwritten pages rather than MS documents. Nowadays, the need for legible handwriting has diminished. Typing, whether through a keyboard or with your phone keys, is now the norm in both personal and professional settings. Handwriting is now more of a niche hobby.

Typing Speed

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Speaking of typing – a high touch typing speed used to be an in-demand skill, particularly for secretary positions. Yet these days, the rise of predictive text, autocorrect, and modern keyboards means that a fast typing speed isn’t a required skill anymore. Not to mention touchscreens taking over.

Cursive Writing

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Do you remember learning cursive writing at school and practicing joining up the letters in a handwriting book? Once considered a fundamental skill, cursive writing is no longer a standard skill. Thanks to digital communication, the focus is more on block, printed letters, with cursive being more of an aesthetic novelty.

Film Camera Operation

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Traditional film camera operation used to be an impressive and worthwhile skill. Yet the rise in digital photography and editing software means that not many people choose traditional film cameras these days. Most would rather have the convenience of a smartphone camera than anything else.

Hand Calculations

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Certain jobs and tasks used to require long-form hand calculations, complex equations, or mathematics. This used to be an impressive and sought-after skill. However, it is less important in today’s world due to calculators and spreadsheet software that will do the calculations for you.

Landline Telephone Etiquette

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Traditional landline etiquette used to be really useful. Knowing how to answer a call politely, correctly take the details, and what to say before ending the call was a simple, everyday skill and part of basic manners. Yet these days, digital text communication means telephone etiquette isn’t as widely practiced.

Manual Typewriting

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Typewriters used to be a go-to writing tool in both professional and personal writing environments. Using a typewriter effectively and at a fast speed was an in-demand skill. These days, manual typewriters (and the ability to type on them) have become outdated. Typewriters are now more a nostalgic collector’s piece.

Paper Filing Systems

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Digital document management is now the norm. Everyone has access to Cloud storage or digital archives. All of these offer a better way for organization and searchability. Paper filing systems used to be the only option and also an important skill to implement effectively.

Spelling Accuracy

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Accurate spelling used to be a basic skill that was learned. Nowadays, with every device having a spell checker and grammar software, correct spelling as a required skill seems to have diminished. The Washington Post also explains that spelling in schools is “not usually tested anymore in a way we can isolate and track”.

Handwritten Invitations

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Think back to all recent invitations you might have received, such as weddings or anniversary celebrations. The chances are that these are mass-produced digitally printed invitations. It used to be that handwritten invitations were the norm and an impressive skill in terms of design and handwriting.

Mental Arithmetic

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Back before the rise of technology, mental arithmetic was really the only option. Even hospitality workers would have to total up a drinks order in their head. These days, if you need to work something out, your phone’s calculator is your go-to.

Knitting and Crocheting

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Knitting and crocheting used to be impressive skills, particularly common among people who wanted to make their own clothing to save money. According to Forbes, “experts agree that knitting is a great stress reducer,” making knitting a relaxing hobby rather than a requirement for clothing.

Addressing Envelopes

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There used to be a certain skill to physical mail: finding the right envelope, addressing the contact details neatly, and taking the package to a mailbox. These days, digital printing and mailing services mean most envelopes are digitally stamped. And most of the time, you might not even see the package you’re sending.

Film Development

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Traditional film development skills have become less necessary for photographers today. The old-fashioned process of developing camera film has been overtaken by quicker and easier digital photo processing. Film development is now more of a hobby than a required skill.

Spoken Foreign Language Fluency

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Fluency in a foreign language remains a vital skill, yet its importance has changed substantially. With the development of translation apps that can speak a foreign language in real-time, knowing a foreign language from scratch is less essential for communication because there’s always an app to fall back on.

Handwritten Journaling

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Although many people still keep a physical journal, it’s more a hobby than a skill these days. Digital journaling is now the go-to for many as it’s more convenient. The New York Times even likens digital journaling as a better option to social media: “a private social network for an audience of one: yourself.”

Analog Timekeeping

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Most people no longer have analog clocks in their homes, never mind actually keeping the time with them. In this digital age, using smartphones and computers to track time and tasks is the preferred option. Analog timekeeping provides less accuracy than digital clocks and timers.