From a friend, we inherited a fifty-two inch flat screen TV. It brings football into our living room. My wife is dazzled by the High Definition picture. She raises her hands every time Tom Brady throws a pass in her direction. I’m impressed with the Polk Audio sound bar. I feel like I’m at the fifty yard line even though I can’t see a punt, pass or kick.
Besides football, we can stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, podcasts and movies on demand. We can record shows to watch later and watch shows broadcast earlier. We can do all this but we don’t. We find it way too complicated. Our cable remote has 49 buttons but no bump on number five. Our TV remote, which the cable guy said we wouldn’t need but we found we really do, has another 42. We have smaller buttons within larger buttons. And even when we press the right buttons, we’re stymied by on-screen menus telling us to press more buttons.
All this made us feel like dummies. Not only couldn’t we enjoy the features of our new TV, for a while we couldn’t even turn it on. But with football as impetus, we grabbed the remotes, replaced the batteries and started calling signals. When we couldn’t move the ball, we called the cable company and implied it was their fault we couldn’t get a first down. The cable guy, accustomed to the technologically challenged, patiently guided us through the process. But nothing seemed to work like he said it would. I got lippy with him and, just when I’m sure he was typing “difficult” in our customer profile, my wife whispered in my ear, “Honey, the number nine button is stuck. It won’t pop up.” That made me feel stupider, like I’d spilled soup on it or something, until I realized it was the cable company’s remote and they had foisted faulty equipment on us. So I gave the cable guy another earful, fetched a screwdriver and pried the number nine button back to where it should have been.
My wife and I tell our friend how much we’re enjoying the big screen TV he gave us. He tells us he has a new eighty-inch plasma with cup holders. He tells us he has a house full of Amazon Echoes and Dots and that, from his bed or his shower, he can say, “Alexa, order me an anchovy pizza,” or “Alexa, play ‘Fly Me to the Moon’.” But my wife and I are in no hurry for a house full of artificial voices. We have enough trouble making sense of the human ones. And, call us old fashioned, but if we want to order a pizza, we’ll pick up the phone. Oh, we don’t deny technology’s usefulness. We’re just waiting for the day when we can say, “Alexa, feed the cats” or, better yet, “Alexa, turn on the big screen TV.”