11/07/2013 02:56 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Great Divide


by guest blogger Renee James, essayist and blogger

Here's today's technology quiz, although it's not measuring exactly what you think. Ready? Here we go, True or False:
  1. Your television has more than one remote control.
  2. You have had to ask one of your children to come into the room to turn on the TV.
  3. More than once, you've chosen to watch a DVD because you were home alone and gave up trying to turn on the TV.
  4. You sometimes hear the audio without seeing the picture.
  5. You've managed to get power to the set, then a message on the screen instructs you to turn on the cable box.
  6. You follow that advice by hitting the "cable" button on the remote and the TV goes off.
  7. You've actually had a family member hide a remote control--one bearing the brand name of the television, mind you--instructing you to never touch it again because "that's not the way we turn on the TV," although hitting one of the buttons does just that.
  8. You've settled in for a lovely evening of Downton Abbey recap episodes only to have someone walk into the room and exclaim, with enormous distress and tremendous anxiety, "WHY aren't you watching this in HD?! Can't you see how BAD that looks?!"
  9. You know exactly how to work every aspect of those remote control devices.
How'd you do? If you answered True to questions 1 through 8, I'll simply say this: I hear you, sister. (Number 9 was a trick question.) I'll take this one step further and say most of the men reading this are absolutely confounded by our answers. They answered false to the first eight questions and true to the last one. Know why? Neither do I, but I think their responses go something like this:
  1. False. The TV has a remote; the cable box has a remote; the Blue-ray player has a remote. Easy.
  2. False. Why would I need anyone's help?
  3. False. You did what?
  4. False. Never. You just have to make sure the receiver is on and tuned to TV/cable. Is that hard?
  5. False. Why would the cable box ever be turned off?
  6. False. If that happened, you did it wrong.
  7. False. No one has ever taken a remote control away from me, and no one ever will.
  8. False. How could anyone watch a non-HD channel? The picture looks like #$*%!
  9. True. It's not that complicated.
The great divide: TV technology. Yes, this is simplistic. Yes, it's not entirely true, but I'm going on record that it's mostly true. I appreciate a beautiful picture as much as the next person--then again, maybe not as much as the next person--but miss the days where you could hit a button, the television (picture and sound!) came on, and you watched a show. One show. From start to finish. Without an ad popping up in the corner about a show that premieres in two weeks. Without scrolling. Without flipping. And without wondering what newer technology has emerged in the last 15 minutes, leaving your own system looking 16 minutes out of date.

Note: I have zero proof of this, but I guarantee you something like this happened, about 17,000 years ago in a cave near Lascaux, France. One evening, a despondent Paleolithic man arrived home, after viewing the brightly colored paintings adorning his neighbor's cave walls. "Why don't the colors in our drawings pop like that?" he asked his wife. "We need better paint," he grumbled.

It's not enough that we now look askance at our DVD collections and feverishly replace them with Blue-ray releases. Soon enough, someone will dangle 4,000-pixel pictures in front of us, anticipating that we'll salivate as predictably as Pavlov's dog. Case in point: Ultra HD video. Yup, coming soon to your screen--Ultra HD.

Last week my husband and I were in an electronics store. As we walked by the big display room up front, we saw people in the comfy furniture, enthralled by the technology in front of them. I asked the Mister what the fuss was all about and he said--not kidding--"4-D TV. Want to check it out?"

Me: "No thanks."

And that, my friends, is the difference between men and women.

Renee A. James works at Rodale Inc. and also wrote an award-winning op-ed column for The Morning Call, the Allentown, PA, newspaper, for almost 10 years. Her essays were included in the humor anthology, 101 Damnations': A Humorists' Tour of Personal Hells (Thomas Dunne Books, 2002), and are also found online at Jewish World Review and The Daily Caller. Her blog, It"s Not Me, It's You, addresses topics that mystify her on a regular basis.

For more from Maria Rodale, visit