Is it really that difficult?
July 28, 2014
by Ivan Raconteur

I was engaged in some retail therapy on my favorite Internet site recently, when I noticed something that gave me pause.

The product I was looking at was a DVD of the second season of “Mad About You,” the ‘90s sitcom featuring the talents of Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt as a delightfully neurotic New York couple with a host of equally neurotic supporting characters.

The thing that caught my attention was in the review section.

Most of the reviews were positive, which didn’t surprise me, but there were some negative comments, the subject of which did surprise me.

The person who wrote the first comment was apparently very upset that the DVDs of this series did not include a “play all” option.

I want to be as clear about this as I can. What the person was upset about was the fact that, instead of clicking “play” once to sit through several hours of programming, it is necessary to click on each episode to start it.

The implication was that this was a terrible inconvenience.

It wasn’t only one person who made a comment like this. Multiple people mentioned it, and rated the series lower because of this apparently catastrophic shortcoming.

I enjoy modern conveniences as much as the next person.

Throughout the history of mankind, we have been obsessed with the search to make things easier for ourselves.

Things that used to require a lot of labor can now be done automatically with the press of a button.

For example, many of us might find it inconvenient if, when we wanted a cup of coffee, we had to leave our house and go to a pump or stream to get some water, then had to cut and split some wood to build a fire to heat that water, before we could sit down and enjoy our coffee.

I can think of some people who might become cranky, if not downright dangerous, if that were the case.

But, there was a time when if one wanted coffee, one had to take those steps.

Fortunately, we don’t have to do all that anymore. In fact, we now have equipment that can be programmed the night before, so the coffee is hot and waiting for us in the morning, and we can get halfway through the first cup before we have to open our eyes completely.

This is the kind of technological advance that has probably saved marriages, if not actual lives.

Getting back to the DVD issue, I have never thought of watching movies as a labor-intensive activity.

I am old enough to remember the days when, if we wanted to see a movie, we walked, drove, or took a bus to a theater and bought a ticket.

Then, developments such as cable television and VCRs brought movies into our homes.

It should be noted that VHS tapes seem primitive by today’s standards, but they were cutting-edge technology at one time.

Later, DVDs and web streaming made watching movies at home even more convenient.

However, it seems to me there are limits to everything.

I despair of the human race sometimes.

If, as the comments on the website suggest, we have reached the point where it is too much trouble to click a button on a remote control to watch a program on television, it makes me wonder how long it will be before we can no longer take care of ourselves.

That level of extreme laziness conjures up images of a society in which people have become so habituated to having things done for them, they can no longer do things for themselves.

Perhaps it was just an aberration. Maybe the people who wrote the comments on the website are just a tiny minority, and don’t represent a trend in the larger population.

I hope that is the case.

Just to be on the safe side, though, I think I am going to start spending more time outdoors and less time reading reviews online.

This strategy may not change the world, but I think I will be happier if I am not faced with the apparent decline of the human race.

There is also something liberating about getting outdoors and exploring the world firsthand, rather than watching it on a screen.

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