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Gadgets in cahoots


Ralph Thomas


  Television sets get old gradually, just like people. From age seventy-nine and eight tenths to seventy-nine and nine tenths is virtually unnoticeable. It is the same way with television sets. Our daughters and grandchildren frequently commented about how dark the screen on our ten-year-old television had become. My wife and I have not noticed it. Of course, this could in part, be because our eyesight is failing along with the rest of us. We just chalk it up to old age.

  A couple of weeks ago one of our daughters brought over a dvd movie for us to watch. The problem was that we couldn’t see the action because the screen was so dark. I thought the problem was the movie itself. Later that night I inserted the dvd in the player in our bedroom to see if I could watch it on our flat-screen tv. The picture was bright and clear. Oh-oh, I thought, this means a new TV for the media room. It was then I discovered that electronic gadgets are all in cahoots with each other, in a way to deprive us of our money and our sanity.

  Selecting a new TV was not as simple as it sounds. The media room was designed to accommodate an entertainment center my wife purchased 25 years ago  . . .  a time when TVs were almost square rather than short and wide as they are now. There are no new TVs that would fit the hole in the entertainment center. No matter which TV I purchased I would have to remodel the entertainment center which proved to be a two-day ordeal. I was wrong when I thought it was clear sailing ahead  . . .  buy a new TV, install it and I’m finished. Not so.

  I was encouraged to purchase a “smart” TV. I had no idea what a “smart” TV was. It was explained to me that a “smart” TV allowed us to access the Internet, connect to on-line movie providers, access my email account, communicate in the same way I do with my iPhone and computers. “Gee, Dad, think about it  . . .  you can age in one place (my words) and still connect with the world, they said. They finally convinced me this was the road to take  . . .  a new gadget that would enhance my life. This was when I discovered it is not that simple. Each new gadget is in cahoots with other gadgets.           

  Having installed the new “smart” TV, I fired it up and discovered after two days of phone calls to customer support that the reason I could not connect to the Internet was because the Internet signal was too weak. I didn’t remember this warning being on the box or in the instructions that came with the TV. Of course not, they are in cahoots with another gadget I must purchase to amplify my Internet signal to make the now “dumb” TV operate as it should. Another two days of talking to customer service in India, El Salvador and the Philippines made me realize why we have a high jobless rate in America. It also made it clear that my 79-year-old ears had difficulty understanding foreign accents. I did ask to speak to someone from southern India hoping for a miracle. It was not to be.

  After several days of buying, installing new gadgets and learning new languages I began to suspect we have all become victims of technology. Behind the scenes, all new gadgets are in cahoots with each other.


 Ralph Thomas is a Locust Grove resident and the author of Doing Great, but Getting Better and Getting Old Can be Fun.




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