John F. Russell: Just a click away from happiness


John Russell

John Russell's sports column appears Tuesdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email

Find more columns by John here.

There you are stretched out on the couch, a cold drink within reach, a handful of snacks nestled next to you and playoff football lighting up your TV screen.

Does life get any better?

But that's when you realize that the TV remote control is across the room on the table next to the La-Z-Boy recliner. A sense of panic starts to creep into your semi-conscious brain, and a bad feeling rumbles in your stomach - making it nearly impossible to enjoy that crisp snap of a Cheetos cheese curl - and your fingers go so numb, you can't grasp that cold drink on the table.

This is when you finally realize how dependant our society has become on technology.

Back when I was a child, the TV had dials, there were only three channels, and the remote was named "John." Sure, today's remotes have lots of fancy buttons, but the one my dad had in his home had far more features than today's state-of-the-art clickers.

For one thing, my father didn't have to have it next to him to change the channel on the boob tube, and if he requested it, "John" would come rushing from another room to flip the switch. I also could fetch a cold beer, a cup of coffee and in a pinch would even run to an upstairs room and fetch his slippers for him.

But in today's world, children have been spoiled by the modern remote control. It's given them more time to become preoccupied with surfing the Internet, texting their friends and playing video games. It seems as though children these days have become more independent than U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Just try to pull them away from Club Penguin to switch the channel when you've left the remote across the room, and you will realize that more than just the music has changed since the early 1980s.

But despite its downsides, the modern remote control offers TV viewers plenty of benefits. Many of those modern conveniences are key to watching professional football on TV.

If I don't like the call, I can punch a button and check out what's on the Lifetime channel. Instead of listening to some blind referee try to explain some call that I don't agree with, I can tune into "Reba" for a few laughs. I have time to watch Fox News to hear the right, watch MSNBC to hear the left and check out the bargains on QVC to measure the economy while the officials in a football game review a play. With some clever clicking, it seems as if I can watch an entire movie on TBS during the commercial breaks of some professional football games - and I would swear I've never missed an actual play.

But from time to time, I will leave the remote on a table across the room, and it will remind me of the good ol' days. Days when watching TV was something you did with your family when there was nothing better to do, and there was no real need for a remote control.


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