There was an old Star Trek episode where Capt. Kirk visited a planet that was run by a bunch of disembodied brains. A few brains, very large brains, ran the entire planet by just thinking about it.
It was a dystopian world where no one would want to live, but, oddly, I wanted to head there when the remote control died on our television.
Actually, the remote did not die. The sensor for the remote on the television died, rendering the remote moot. In an instant, my wife and I were thrown back into our childhoods in the 1960s.
Back then, we thought nothing of getting up to turn the TV on or off, to adjust the volume or change channels (the five that there were anyway). It’s just what people did. When I was in college, my parents were so excited because they got a Betamax VCR that had a wired remote. At the end of a 25-foot wire, they could change the channels from their rocking chairs. They were in heaven.
Flash forward to 2020 when our remote died last week, I looked at my wife and she looked at me. One of us was going to have to get up and walk to the television set. We sat there in our chairs with a mix of dread, disbelief and selfishness: “I don’t want to get up. Do you want to get up?” And we sat there and watched the next show. I am convinced to this day that the entire reason “Murder She Wrote” was so successful was because it was just on, and back then nobody wanted to change the channel.
The same thing happened a month ago when my car was getting a new engine and I had a rental car. I drove in the driveway and was too lazy to get out and open the garage door myself. So I would call or text my wife inside the house, so she could push the button there and the garage would magically open for me.
How lazy as a society did we become that we can’t move anymore? It’s not sugared sodas. It’s not fast food. It’s remote controls that have turned us into couch blobs. I think we have 10 remotes in the drawer just for television, cable, Blu-ray player, CD player, etc. And in other rooms, we have space heaters and other gadgets, all with remotes. I have even absentmindedly tried to open the back door of my house on occasion by pressing the buttons from my car remote. (Hint: It does not work).
We even have some of those smart speakers at home, where you can ask a question or bark a command, and get your favorite music or get substitute ingredients for a recipe. Have we gotten so lazy as a society that even the act of pushing a button on a remote control is so much work that we would rather just use our voices? “Hey Google, why am I so lazy?”
Do you remember back in the old days when people went shopping, visited the cinema, ate at restaurants and listened to live music? Now we just sit inside, order our food delivered, and watch Netflix or listen to Spotify. If I started wearing Depends, I would have no reason to get up out of my easy chair at all. Before long, if Darwin was right, my legs would wither away. And eventually, our brains would be sitting around in containers just like Capt. Kirk discovered.
So you would think, living in a remote-controlled world would be so abhorrent that we would pull the plug on this strange culture that has been built around us and run like mad to get back to nature and return to our roots. Instead, I ordered a new television online.
And as we wait for it to arrive, Nancy and I are locked in a stalemate. In my mind, I am silently saying, “Nancy, why don’t you get up and change the channel.” And she is thinking, “Scott, I am waiting. Go ahead!” As our two brains desperately try to telepathically communicate, we sit idly by waiting, and immovable, for whom else: Angela Landsbury.
I hope this doesn’t become a “Murder Remote” episode.