Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Modern Times

We’re in an appliance breakdown period, it seems: Several different things have broken down in a relatively short period. It happens, in my opinion, more often than it should with things not built as well as they used to be. But I would say that—I’m in my 50s, and by now I should apparently be complaining that things aren’t built as well as they used to be.

Be that as it may, it got me to thinking about how dependent we become on our technology, even after only a few years. Things didn’t exist, then they do, and then we can’t function without them, all before we’re even aware of it happening. Microwaves are like that for me—I can’t imagine getting by without one. For older people, it might be a washing machine, for younger people it might be a smart phone, but for all of us it’s about becoming so entwined with our technology that our daily lives almost depend on them. Cue dystopian melodrama.

The reality is far from the fictional negative world: Something breaks, we repair or (more likely) replace it, and if necessary, we somehow manage to live without it for awhile. We humans are far more resilient than the authors of speculative fiction give us credit for.

Anyway, all of this nice in theory, but it was sorely tested when our television blew up. I mean that more or less literally, in that there was a hugely loud BANG! and then the TV no longer worked.

After some misfires, we finally arranged to have someone come to look at the TV to find out what was wrong. The man opened up the back and at that moment I realised that I’d never seen the guts of a plasma TV. I also realised that until that moment it had also never occurred to me that I’d never seen the guts of a plasma TV. Maybe you haven’t, either: The photo above is the guts of our TV. Cross that off your bucket list.

Meanwhile, the technician (who I kept thinking of as a “TV repairman”; how last century…) determined that, quite possibly, the large square circuit board on the left was blown, as was one of the two skinny ones on the left edge. They will attempt to replace them to see if it fixes the TV, and, if it doesn’t, it’s the plasma panel, which is another matter entirely (and they’d have to take it away to repair).

The TV blew up a week ago Sunday. This was 11 weeks, 1 day, 23 hours and about ten minutes, give or take, since the first anniversary of when we bought it—and that long since our one-year manufacturer's warranty expired. However, in New Zealand we’re covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act, which, among other things, mandates that goods sold to consumers have to have a reasonable lifespan, and our TV has had FAR from that. So, ultimately, it will be up to the store to repair or replace, pursuant to the Act. This means that, in the end, all will be well—getting there is the painful part.

We have a TV in the master bedroom, complete with pay-TV decoder, but we discovered that the decoder no longer worked: We could watch only two channels. So, of course we upgraded it (does anybody ever fix those?) and we have TV once again. But not being able to sit and watch TV in the evenings has been a real change in behaviour.

Which brings me back to where I started: We are completely used to being able to watch TV whenever we want, and adjusting to the reality that we can’t has been a bit of challenge. As Joni sang, “don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone…” Well, technology may not be paradise, but it sure makes life seem a little more like it sometimes. Right now, I just want my TV working again.

This post has an update (of sorts), eight years later.


d said...

Agreed! Our microwave just stopped heating one night - in the middle of making dinner. It took me a full 2-3 minutes to figure out how to cook my veggies without the microwave!

In general, I've been trying to avoid replacing analogue things with electronic things just in case I get too dependent...

As fir your tv issue, perhaps you could watch some stuff on demand online? Most of the the channels stream their shows, and some don't even count against your bandwidth!

Arthur Schenck said...

We have done On Demand, but we'd have to sit at the computer which, despite my high definition monitor, just ain't the same! :-)

About the analogue thing, I've been seriously thinking about getting a used manual typewriter—if there's a natural disaster and power is out, at least I could still write about it, even if I could post it. Seriously, though, I've always liked the look of old manual typewriters.

Roger Owen Green said...

Or you could get REALLY analog, and use paper and pen