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I Don’t Know How To Do Anything

I’m 21 years old. I don’t know how to do anything.

Well let me clarify that — I don’t know how to do ‘real life’ stuff. Sure there are technically things I can do (i.e. take the derivative of things, illegally download music, use a credit card but not understand the statement). But it’s the frequently overlooked little tasks in life that I’m realizing must make me look like an alien from outer space. Heck, I bet even aliens would make fun of me. They’d be all like, “really bro, you don’t know to operate an oven?” Honestly, if not for the likes of ‘Yahoo Answers and eHow,’ I would literally be dead by now. And I do mean literally. Like at some point I probably would have bought potatoes, realized I have no idea how to prepare potatoes, and then my head would have exploded and I’d be dead.

Is it a generational thing? My parents seem to know how to do stuff. Some of my friends can do some things, but most of them also seem to not know how to do stuff. Is it because of robots? Is it because of China? Or is it neither of those things? I don’t know, but what I do know is that my peers and I can’t do squat, except actually squat, we do like to exercise which I guess is good.

I recently had to mail some documents (yeah I’m kind of a big deal, I occasionally mail DOCUMENTS) to someone, and I was genuinely baffled. Sure, I knew the post office would be involved, but in what capacity? Could I do this virtually? Would I have to communicate with another human being, like, in the flesh (bleh)? Do stamps still exist or did Barry Obama get rid of those? Would I need to create a login and password? At that moment, while watching a TV show on my computer I realized, HOLY CRAP I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO MAIL A LETTER!

Epilogue to that story, the documents did eventually get mailed and among other things, I now know what a ‘fixed-rate, pre-paid envelope is as far as the US Postal Service is concerned #GetAtMe. However the whole situation did reveal something bigger: I graduate college this year and will subsequently be unleashed into the ‘real world’ where I will presumably be expected to understand how to get from the entrance of the airport all the way to the airplane without asking any questions. With crying no longer an option, I need to start learning how to do things, real things, right now.

But hey, this shouldn’t be a wake up call for just me. I’m talking to YOU other people my age who don’t know how to do things! If I had a nickel for every time I overheard a person my age on the phone asking his or her mother how to deposit a check or operate a thermostat I would have SO MANY NICKELS! Now granted I get that writing checks is a pretty archaic art-form and successfully adjusting a thermostat is annoyingly complex, but I feel like when my parents were my age they never would’ve even asked the question.

I imagine all of this not-knowing-how-to-do-stuff can play out in a number of ways, which also happen to work as a fantastic plot to a movie. (Spielberg if you’re reading this hit me up on LinkedIn because I’m very professional and I got ideas.)

Scenario 1 involves my peers and I becoming full-blown adults who don’t understand how to pay rent or register to vote or disinfect a wound and our society crumbles as we know it.

Scenario 2 involves robots developing much faster than expected and before we know it the robots just do everything for us and it will be sad, but ultimately irrelevant that we can’t do anything ourselves because the robots will just do everything. But have you seen I Am Legend? Let’s just say I’m not fond of scenario 2.

Scenario 3 involves China doing everything for us, taking all our money, and eventually our robots (NOT OUR ROBOTS!)

Scenario 4 involves us becoming proactive and learning how to do things so we can become fully functional members of society.
So scenario 4 is really the only option we have whereby we don’t get destroyed by ourselves, robots, China, or some combination of the three. I don’t know about you but I’d like to live a long life of mailing letters and understanding what a health insurance ‘deductible’ is without the fear of impending doom. So what do you say, wanna hang out and learn how to do some stuff?

Follow Daniel Cohen on Twitter.

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