Amazingly, the directions on a shampoo bottle, no matter how expensive that shampoo may be, have changed very little. “Wet hair, apply shampoo, lather, rinse and repeat” has been the mainstay of many a shampoo product. I like those directions. They are simple and too the point; as all directions should be.
In years past, television equipment came with the same basic instructions. “Plug television into a grounded receptacle, locate the on/off switch (which came with a picture) and turn the television on. Later, television instructions became a little more complicated as the advent of cable became a stable in many homes. Once again, the instructions were basic and for the most part easy to follow but you might have had to follow instructions in two booklets not one: the cable booklet and the television booklet. The instructions still came in the same box that the television or cable box came in and it had pictures and diagrams for all to follow.
Of course, if you were a music enthusiast, the instructions to connect tuners, amplifies, cassette tape decks, reel-to-reels, turntables and speakers put you far above those lowly consumers who only assembled their television and cable boxes. Diagrams, speaker wires and channels were a part of the common vocabulary when it came to assembling the perfect in-house stereo systems. “Real” stereo geeks laughed at the purchase of the all in one stereo systems that doubled as a piece of furniture. Even after the stereo/furniture became a thing of the past and progress was made to put all the components of a stereo in one, the geeks still turned up their nose to the advancement. Good thing these geeks had a firm foundation in components because the worst was yet to come.
Oh no they didn’t. They combined television and music! Say it isn’t so! As technology evolved the television combined with surround sound. Stereophonic TV. The idea appealed not only to the television enthusiast but the stereo snob as well. “Live” sound emanating from a visual source was more than anyone could refuse. The connection war was on for all to enjoy – or not enjoy – as the case may be.
The instruction pamphlets turned into instruction booklets. Each component: television, receiver, tuner, CD player, DVD player, Nintendo, speakers each had their own booklet and each had their own idea on how things had to be connected. Getting a new component meant a weekend project; complete with assemble, test the new component, disassemble, re-assemble, test the new component with a whole lot of swearing in the mix. God forbid if you bought an entire new system complete with the latest and greatest gaming system. Assembly of such proportions may have taken a couple of weekends and a few week night which gave you about 2 weeks to learn how to use the remote (which, by the way, comes with its own instruction booklet).
Surround sound gave way to 5 way surround sound which eventually was ousted by 7 way surround sound; each upgrade giving more and more of a live experience until eventually one could fantasize that they were at the premiere of the show they were watching or maybe even at the theater itself. Life couldn’t get much better. What more could the consumer want? Why wouldn’t anyone want to convert their weekends and a few of their week nights into assembling one of the most prime entertainment systems ever? Of course, after the assembly was perfected a new, much better, product hit the market and only left you wanting.
Fear not. The makers of all our components heard the pleas of the common man and decided to thin those thick instruction manuals down to a pamphlet once again. Of course, the pamphlet only contains the website one needs to assess in order to download the manual that contains 3,652 pages of words and diagrams each separated into its own unique topic that refers you to a later page or an earlier page that you didn’t understand anyway.
There are other options to the instruction manual nightmare. Hire someone. Hiring someone only takes one weekend-day (but you may have to wait for months for an appointment) or take a vacation day from work and spend the morning watching someone install your easy-to-assemble entertainment system and spend the afternoon in class while he teaches you how to use it.
Technology has made my life much more simple. I am so glad we have advanced beyond those silly instructions of shampoo, lather, rinse, repeat.