Remote Pasts and Possibilities

I know little about our not-so-current remote. Hubby changes its batteries and soothes its moods.

Our remote hides in our home’s every nook and cranny. Today, however, the remote is staring me down. Daring me to write about it.

Its hieroglyphics intimidate me. What if I offend it, and it translates every movie into Egyptian?

I shake myself. Why do I cave to this device? I belong to the brave, dwindling population who remembers life without remotes.

Surprise! Something is older than I. TV remotes preceded my birth by three whole years. In 1950, the Zenith Company created “Lazy Bones,” connected to a television with a cable that tripped and/or strangled anyone who dared leave the sofa. Mothers voted it down.

Zenith produced a cableless “Flash-Matic.” However, controlled by directional flashes of light, the Flash-Matic not only responded to the screen, but to sunshine and ceiling fixtures.

When too many sports fans missed final plays, Robert Adler invented the “Space-Commander,” engineered around sound waves. This innovation increased sales dramatically among humans, who couldn’t hear its high-frequency noise — though it dropped canine sales to zero.

With infrared light improvements — along with inventions of players, devices and consoles — concern increased among health authorities. Studies revealed some viewers had not moved from their recliners since 1979.

Doctors need not have worried. The Telegraph, a British newspaper, cited research claiming viewers’ step counts had increased, due to searching for remotes. An average British man spent 18.5 days per lifetime hunting his remote. A woman spent 12.5 days.

Some families with young children may have spent more. One mother reported not only excessive exercise searching for remotes, but excessive expense. One autumn, she discovered 11 missing devices stuck in a now-leafless bush.

Voice-controlled devices seem a solution. But given software programs, movies and games that require vocal direction — plus 24/7 cell phone conversations — how long before our poor vocal cords collapse?

Let us look to the future, when we may change channels per our brain waves. At a 2011 global technological show, one company’s headset experimented with mind control. Those who donned the headset exploded a video’s animated barrel with a mere thought.

Future action film fans not only will enjoy 57 car chases/crashes per movie, but with a single thought, may detonate their screens.

I, however, question “infallible” technology. Should I entrust my thoughts to technology like my laptop? It possesses meaner hormones than mine.

Worse, do I want my thoughts played out on a screen?

That kind of remote is way too close to home.

My own device beckons: Want to watch a show?

No, thanks. I think I’ll read a book instead.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Where is the oddest place your remote has hidden?

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