July 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Building New Skills With the Throwaway Generation

Learning new ways to use technology appropriately in unprecedented times is a challenge. On the one hand, I wonder how many columns one can read about Zoom calls. (This is not one of them, don’t worry). It was certainly the thing to do in March, but now even the most tech-savvy kid in the world would rather go to the park than sit in front of a Zoom screen.

With parents and students of all ages Zooming or using other video conferencing tools, “screen sucking” is a new term that Dr. Edward Hallowell, psychiatrist and renowned ADD/ADHD authority, often uses. A ritual after the Shabbat when I was a kid was dashing off to Jerusalem Pizza in Flatbush or calling my friends who were only by a phone for the next hour. “Where are we going to go tonight?” was the big question. Now, right after Shabbat, what do you do? All of us run to our smartphones to check our mission-critical emails. All of us are as important as the president of the United States during a speech at a wedding. We must check our emails or take that call. We are all definitely sucked into our screens.

But I digress: None of us, during the coronavirus outbreak in March, assumed we would still be in the same place in November. I’m only using myself as an example, and as my company manages many schools, thank God, we have been busier than ever.

But most of us have been stuck at home. Business owners who were very much against having their staff work remotely now all-remote. For example, one of our clients decided the cost and hassle of an office was simply no longer worth it. His server is in our office and now all the workers will be remote going forward. Commuting? Snow days? Maybe those are a thing of the past.

So, in addition to needing technology even more, what we need now is technology that helps us interact with each other less. Amazon lockers have now shown up at my 7-Eleven on Teaneck Road, which reduces interactions for delivery people and reduces or even eliminates the time we have to spend standing in line.

Having someone repair something in one’s house just may not be feasible right now due to social distancing. So there’s been a wave of interest in ifixit.com-type sites, which contain many self-help/fix-it videos or YouTube-type how-to videos that accomplish the same thing.

No one has excess money to throw expensive things away right now. It’s amazing, really. An entire generation that used to just throw things out and buy new ones are learning how to fix broken things. People are now rediscovering lost arts and pursuing new yet useful leisure interests like fixing their own major and minor household appliances as they used to do in the old days. I am not going to say this is always a money saver, and for sure with difficult or complex items one should certainly call a professional. But using ifixit.com.can be a lesson to teach the next generation, as well as combining tech with something hands-on, thus teaching a skill that reduces the fatigue of the “screen suck” concept.

Ifixit.com has tons of manuals, videos and take-apart guides on thousands of items, some new and some very old. The site shows even how to source old parts and helps you connect with others who are part of the “ifixit.com world.”

Just a side note, some of this tech innovation may be here to stay, as once-in-a-while tasks have become the norm. Takeout, for example, is now totally accessible from every kosher restaurant in town. If one wants to order from just about any local eatery or 7-Eleven-type establishment, there isn’t just one delivery service but several, Uber Eats and DoorDash, to name a couple. When the pandemic ends, are we all going to rush out to stand in line for a table at a crowded restaurant again?

Personally, I am for sure not a chef in any way, but during the pandemic I took the time and my son joined me to do a lot more cooking from scratch. We had time to spend on this. I even grew hot peppers this summer, with which I made my own sauce! So for me, an extravagant gift, but well worth it. This was my year for MasterClass, a website where you pick the class and the instructor. On the cooking side, Gordon Ramsay and Yotam Ottolenghi are among the chefs imparting their knowledge. James Patterson is one of the writing instructors and Samuel Jackson is an acting coach. These lessons are more experiential and feel less like taking a class and more like watching YouTube how-to videos.

With that said, I now make a mean hummus, a recipe that I learned on MasterClass.

By Shneur Garb

 

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