There is a place in your house so sinister, so terrifying, so mind-bendingly awful that dark fates befall anyone who goes there. Few are foolish enough to go there. Those foolish few are seldom seen again. Promise me that you wíll never go there. If you must go there, tells others where you are going, turn on all the lights and tie a rope to your ankles lest you be engulfed and disappear down the throat of madness.
I am speaking, of course, about that massive tangle of cables and wires behind your television. You have one. I have one. Every home in America has one — this writhing den of copper snakes, this mad tangle of serpents sheathed in white, yellow and blue vinyl.
It starts out innocently enough. You plug a TV into the wall. You attach a VHS player, then a DVD player. Next, a game console. Perhaps you have stereo components or surround sound. A BlueRay player and DVR. Your TV is connected to a cable for satellite. Your internet comes through here on a cable to your modem which is, in turn, tethered to your router, which is, ironically enough, the source of your wireless lifestyle.
How easily we forget the many miles of wire supporting our wireless lifestyles. I was reminded this weekend when replacing my modem. I got a new router for Christmas and then bought the modem with Amazon gift credit. The router installed easily in about 10 minutes the weekend prior. Last weekend, I installed the new modem.
Nightmare. I hooked up the modem, called the ISP with the new modem MAC address and then watched the lights on my modem steadily disappear. The next six hours were a progression of disconnecting modem, connecting router, reconnecting modem. Waiting for lights to turn amber, blink amber, then turn green, blink green then hopefully steady blue. It never worked. I tethered my laptop to the mess and gave the router my IP address, my router MAC address, my modem MAC address and an endless dance of other 8 digit codes. I called the router company twice. They spent 2 hours troubleshooting an insane sequence of plug, unplug, replug, unplug, plug. We never got it fixed. The router is somehow defective and won’t talk to the modem.
I spent six hours of my Sunday entangled by a frightening coil of wires that wanted my life and my sanity. I gave it both.
While working in this frightening mess, I recalled the conversation I had a few weeks earlier with the satellite TV installer. I asked if every house had such an obscene tangle of cords and cables. “I’ve seen much worse,” he told me. I think he was being nice.
Then, I asked the question I really wanted to ask. “Do you have such crazy pile of wire behind your TV? You probably have your wires organized nice and neat. Do you think I should spend the time organizing mine?”
He smiled. “It would take a mad scientist to unravel the wad of wires hiding in my house.”
For a moment, I felt better about myself. Then, I started thinking about the kind of mad scientist who might undertake such a thing. I got really, really scared.
Has anybody out there tamed the beast? Have you bothered organizing the wires behind your TV set? Better yet, anybody actually label those wires so you can easily tell which device they power?
Maybe I don’t want to know. The beast in my house is cleverly hidden where eyes do not go. Stay out of that corner. Do not go back there. Ever.
You have been warned.