We are told that life as we know it has been forever changed by the computer. The most complicated equations are solved. We started at a desk, then moved to a mobile laptop. A few years later our phones became computers and now it can be as small as a watch on your wrist. (Calling Dick Tracey?) Technology is instantaneous and we are told it’s made our lives easier, and it has in many ways, while complicating it in others. Who is it that’s telling us this life in general is made easier by technology? Is it true?
Then, why do I have three remotes sitting on my coffee table to operate one so called smart TV?
If it’s so smart, shouldn’t I only need a single remote ... or no remote at all?
As most of you know, we recently downsized and moved into town. The building I live in doesn’t allow a dish to be installed so I called the local branch of the mega-cable service. I found in my call for installation that I could easily install it myself. They pushed the do-it-yourself option hard. It was obvious they didn’t want to send anyone out, so I finally said yes.
The box of wires and devices arrived, and I was lost. I called my son-in-law Jeff (an engineer) and he made it look easy. It was ready to go ... but not so fast.
Jeff handed me five remote controls and said, “These three are for the living room and these two for the bedroom. The third for the living room operates your sound. The other two operate the TV.”
Easy for Jeff. He actually is a rocket scientist. I think he can send us all to Mars using his telephone, an umbrella, and a Red Ryder wagon. He gave me a quick tutorial and was out the door ... yet I wasn’t even sure how to turn either TV on.
If they are so smart, why can’t they figure out how to run on a single remote? If they are intelligent, why is it every time I talk into the voice activated feature on the remote, it answers, “There is no channel called ...” no matter what channel I choose. If they are smart, why did I walk out of the bedroom this morning to find Arlene holding one remote over her head and the other at knee level. “What are you doing?” I asked. “Trying to turn on the TV,” she responded.
Oh, before you ask, no, there was no instruction manual. I called to get one and was told I could access it on my smart TV. Right.
Over the last seven months, I’ve learned the basics of managing my TV with these remotes. We never get too old to learn and after I figured it all out, it’s not that hard. But why should I have spent the first four months only watching Netflix because I couldn’t figure out how to leave the streaming services and over to cable? And please do not tell me a really smart TV can’t figure out how to operate with a single remote.
I’m sure my grandsons could have taught me. The 9-year-old down the street probably knows. I’m just not wired that way. I’m heavy on the creative side and exceptionally light on the technical, detailed stuff. I can write a column, book, or screenplay ... but if my screenplay was turned into a movie, I may miss the first half of the show while I struggle with the remote to find the channel.
So, what is positive about all this? I didn’t give up and figured it out. We are never too old to learn and if we are optimistic and keep working on the problem, we can solve it.
And what did I learn from all this? Well ... I don’t think the term smart TV is fully accurate. I find both of my televisions to be less intelligent than Alexa (Amazon) or my iPhone. I guess my TVs could be classified as learning impaired, but that’s OK. They both now perform as needed when I have all the remotes at my disposal.
The world is constantly changing around us, and we can choose to be lost within it or to keep up. I decided to keep up. What about you?
I encourage all of us that were born before the computer boom to continue learning. You’re never too old and you’re certainly smarter than my two TVs. Learn a game or a task your phone can do. Get on a computer and learn something today you didn’t know yesterday.
Although my television experience has been a struggle, and still is at times, the computer in its many forms is here to stay. Get online, stumble around and learn to do something fun. You can expand your horizons ... and your grandkids will be impressed!
Gary W. Moore is a freelance columnist, speaker, and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com