18 Skills Everyone’s Forgotten But Shouldn’t

The modern world has made life more convenient, with technologies and mass-produced foods and goods reducing the need for many skills. These 18 skills were once normal and often essential but are now widely forgotten by many Americans.

Reading a Paper Map

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People had to read paper maps to travel around before GPS and digital mapping services like Apple Maps and Google Maps were available. Travelers had to understand map symbols, estimate distances using the scale, and align the map with their surroundings.


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Handwriting is becoming less common, especially in adult life, as word-processing software like Word and Google Docs, instant messaging, and emails increasingly replace it. However, as Psychology Today notes, handwriting involves specific motor skills and promotes better and faster learning.

Basic Sewing Skills

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Being able to sew a button, take up pants, and repair small holes in clothes and bedding is an important skill that saves money that would be spent on tailors and prevents clothes from being unnecessarily discarded. However, it is an increasingly uncommon skill, and many people rely on older relatives and tailors for basic sewing alterations and repairs.

Personal Budgeting Without Apps

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There are endless apps that offer simple, structured personal budgeting plans. However, there’s something to be said for a pen-and-paper budget. Tracking expenses manually is better for understanding your spending habits and finding patterns.

Basic Car Maintenance

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Changing tires, checking tire pressure, checking and topping up fluids, and understanding when to change a car’s oil are increasingly uncommon skills. However, they are handy, especially when you’re stuck on a country road and roadside assistance is far away.

Letter Writing

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Emails and texts have largely replaced writing physical letters. For centuries, letters were the only way to communicate with loved ones and friends who were far away, and they were often kept and treasured by those who received them. In 2021, CBS News reported that “Most Americans haven’t written a personal letter on paper in over five years” and that “another 15% of adults have never written and sent a personal letter.”

Plant Identification and Foraging

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Recognizing edible plants in local regions and having a basic understanding of foraging have become less common. As people have moved to urban areas and widespread reliance on pharmaceuticals has become common, understanding plant properties and seasonal cycles is increasingly rare.

Basic First Aid Skills

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The ability to dress wounds and give CPR is more common among service members and health care professionals than in the general public. The American Heart Association notes that “436,000 Americans die from a cardiac arrest” annually and that immediate CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest.

Using a Compass

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Basic understanding of navigating a paper map with a compass, orienteering, and being able to distinguish between magnetic north and true north is not as common as it once was. These skills are taught to Scouts across America, but most Americans are unfamiliar with them.

Mental Arithmetic

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Mental arithmetic is unnecessary for most Americans, who have instant access to calculators on their phones. However, it is still a useful skill that keeps the mind sharp, improves memory skills, and can be used in everyday situations.


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Storytelling was an important way of passing on cultural values and teaching listening skills. While parents still read stories to their children, digital entertainment has led to declining oral traditions, including storytelling.

Cooking from Scratch

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The ease and widespread availability of ready meals, takeout apps, and restaurants have made home cooking less popular among Americans. During the pandemic, home cooking became more popular as options to eat out were shut down, but Axios has reported that these levels have since fallen to pre-pandemic levels.

Critical Thinking

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Critical thinking is essential in the workplace and at home, allowing individuals to form rational opinions about situations. Skepticism and fact-checking are increasingly valuable skills as misleading AI-generated content becomes more commonplace, but many Americans are uninterested in these skills.

Traditional Games

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The popularity of structured team sports video games has led to a declining interest in traditional board games. These modern alternatives lead many to neglect traditional games like backgammon, chess, and cribbage, which develop strategy and patience skills.

Knot Tying

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The figure 8 knot, the half hitch, the slip knot, and the square knot are basic knots that have useful applications in everyday life. Knowing how to tie different knots is a helpful skill for creating tree swings, tying packages, and hitching barrels.

Time Management Without Digital Tools

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While digital time management apps and tools are helpful, planning your day with a paper planner is more rewarding and encourages memorization. The Pomodoro Technique and other time management methods are great for working with the time you have.

Basic Carpentry Skills

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A widespread understanding of basic hand tools and simple woodworking projects is no longer necessary in the age of flat-packed furniture popularized by IKEA. These instant-manufactured solutions have made understanding joinery and hand tool techniques unnecessary.

Analog Photography

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The rise of digital photography saw analog photography overshadowed by a more straightforward, immediate digital alternative. However, traditional analog photography has seen renewed interest on Instagram in recent years.

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17 Religious Facts People Get Wrong All the Time

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