2009-06-11 / Sam Bari

The ultimate couch potato

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

Less than two centuries ago, people were migrating to the west from the New England area to settle the then unknown frontier. Entire families would band together and bring all they needed with them, from cattle to seed for crops. The pioneers became accustomed to living in remote, isolated areas.

When they found a piece of land that suited their purposes, they would stake their claim, cut timber and establish a homestead.

They were self-sufficient and resourceful. Sometimes other human beings wouldn’t come their way for months, or even years. Roads and methods of communication were nonexistent. Electricity had yet to be invented. There wasn’t even mail.

The settlers were a tough lot. Living like hermits was an accepted way of life to the adventurous pioneers. No phones, no 911, 411, or any other emergency services could bail them out of tough situations. However, as the years went by, urban centers developed. Industry, innovation, and mankind’s need for community and culture brought civilization and societal living to the forefront.

After W.W. II, the suburbs made their presence known, and the country became interconnected from coast to coast. Even farmers and ranchers in the most remote areas now have telephones, cell phones, computers, and satellite televisions that get more than 200 channels from around the globe.

It is just as easy for a person residing in the mountains and hills of North Dakota, Montana, or Wyoming to direct dial a friend in Japan or India, as it is for any of us to order a pizza from a local vendor.

Nonetheless, the pendulum is swinging. A long forgotten way of life has come to the forefront. The recluse, the self-proclaimed hermit is beginning to lead the isolated life of the new pioneer. However, this anti-social isolationist is not the tough, resilient, self-sufficient pioneer of yesteryear. No, Sir! We now have — the ultimate couch potato!

A product of the “me” generation, the ultimate couch potato is computerized, digitized, and wired in to the max, thus giving him the ability to isolate himself from society as we know it. He’s a gamer, a geek and an online freak.

The ultimate couch potato has half a dozen websites, at least a dozen blogs, and he makes his living on the Internet. He buys, sells, markets, and trades in everything from stocks and bonds to collectibles and antiques. His sites are linked, loaded with key words, AdWords, and affiliate advertisers.

The ultimate couch potato has a line on every sporting event that is meaningful on the globe. He has accounts with every major gaming facility on the Internet. He does his banking, pays his bills, and conducts all his business from the comfort of a plushy couch or armchair.

In front of him are at least two 24- inch LCD computer screens; some use three. He has an extended wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse. The screens are connected to two or three maxed-out computer towers with a dozen terabytes of outboard memory. Attached to the far wall just above the computer screens is the crown jewel — a giant 62-inch HDTV screen with surround sound and 3D capabilities.

This new-age hermit does all of his shopping on the Internet. The laundry picks up his cleaning in the morning and delivers to his door on the same day. He has a robot for a vacuum cleaner, and the Stop and Shop, Publix, or any of a dozen other supermarkets around the country offering shopping

services, delivers his food, hand picked from a grocery list he e-mails online. The cost is automatically deducted from a pre-established credit card account at his online bank.

He even socializes through video chat rooms, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Like pioneers of old, he is self-sufficient, resourceful, and totally dedicated to exploring uncharted territory and discovering new horizons in an untamed world.

Unlike the tough, gritty, iron-willed pioneers that settled the west, our couch potato is a pudgy, pale, quivering blob of gelatinous flab, whose only links to exercise are highly publicized sporting events on which he has invested money.

The ultimate couch potato lives in a virtual world. His peers are joining him in this alternative lifestyle that is gripping the computer generation. More people are working at home than ever before.

The life of the ultimate couch potato is the new way to survive when you live in a system you can’t understand.

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