I remember the day my dad brought home a brand new TV set. The picture tube had become so weak in our old one that we could barely make out an image. 

We were all excited and could hardly wait for it to be set up. By today’s standards, it was quite small. But it was very heavy and it took two of us to carry it in and place it on its stand.

Setting up the new TV was quite simple. The owner’s manual had six pages. It instructed us to plug the set in, hook up the antenna, and turn it on. There were no settings to make, other than possible adjusting the fine-tuning or horizontal or vertical hold controls. 

I remember when we bought a new stereo. Setup was simple, take it out of the box, plug it in and load it up with records. If we became confused, the four-page instruction manual was there to help. 

Everything was so simple back then, so easy to setup and so easy to use.

It’s not so easy today.

Recently I purchased a new 55-inch TV. I carried it into the house by myself. We unboxed it and set it on its new stand. I plugged it in and connected the antenna. 

Unlike the TV of my youth, we were still a long way from being able to watch a program.

We had to scan for available channels, and then edit out the ones we didn’t wish to use. It was a “smart TV” so the next step was to connect to to the Internet.

After that, it was time to hook all of the other equipment, such as the DVD deck and my surround-sound audio system. 

Of course, all of these units have to “talk” to each other, and so everything has to be set just right. I can’t help but wonder, it is such a smart TV, why can’t it figure this all out by itself?

The DVD deck seemed to work just fine. But my audio system didn’t seem to be getting along with the TV. The question is, which unit needs to have changes made and what needs to be changed and how do you do it?

It was time to drag out the owner’s manuals and look for answers. I’ll admit, it was a little overwhelming. The TV has a 60-page manual, while the audio system has a 130-page manual. Both are full of instructions, and explain features and functions I will never live long enough to understand. 

The instructions for the TV are telling me to connect to the audio system using “HDMI with ARC, if supported.” What is that and how do I know if it is supported?

I thumb through the audio system’s instruction book, looking for anything that might be an answer. Growing frustrated with that, I search for helpful YouTube videos. 

I don’t think this TV is so smart.

Several hours later, I finally have everything working harmoniously together, all available channels are scanned in, the internet is connected, and my streaming channels are operating perfectly. 

Thank goodness. Having a smart TV is great, but it would have been easier if I’d had a smarter me. 

Time to sit back and enjoy.

Unlike the TV and audio systems of my youth, everything today comes with a remote control. On the coffee table in front of me is a large collection of remotes. The new TV has a remote, the audio receiver has a remote, the DVD deck has a remote and the ROKU device has a remote. 

It’s enough to drive me crazy. 

Everything I want to do requires shifting back and forth between several remotes. Figuring out how to change from one function to another is bad enough. I also have to figure out which remotes are needed to do the job. That is just half of the battle. I also have to find them. 

One would think the logical place to find a remote would be on the coffee table, which is in front of the couch, facing the TV. But it is never that easy. There is always one control that is nowhere to be found, and it’s always the one I need.

I remove the cushions from the couch, and the remote is not to be found. Grabbing a flashlight, I search under the couch, and still no remote. 

My frustration level is climbing rapidly. The TV sets of today have many functions that can’t be addressed without the remote. I find myself wondering if a TV program is worth the stress.

After locating the missing control on the dining room table, (Don’t ask me why it was there.) I am finally ready to make the necessary changes to view my program, which is almost half over. I just have to figure out which buttons to push. Each control has so many buttons I can’t figure out what does what. I have no idea what most of those buttons do and I am afraid to find out.

I know there are controls available that can combine all of my remotes into one single unit. I don’t even want to think about the procedures for that. No doubt it would take a forklift to bring the instruction book into the house.

While I am fumbling around, the teenager grabs the remote and says, ‘Let me do it for you Dad,’ and in seconds everything is under control. 

That really frustrates me.

But now everything is working fine, I have most of it figured out and all is right with the world. 

Dad, you don’t know how easy you had it.

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