Overloaded Circuits

Posted on September 14, 2017


My concern today is with the avalanche of media that rolls over us every day, from television to blogs to tweets to outrageous advertisements on the Internet, social media, cell phones, and you get the message. Unless you are a troll or hermit and have chosen to separate yourself entirely from the world as we know it, we are carried forward by this avalanche daily.

We’ve all seen an avalanche in some documentary or movie. It starts high up on the slopes of snowy peaks and mountains, and swiftly runs down the mountain slopes and sides, carrying and usually burying everything before it.

If caught in the way of an avalanche, you cannot do anything about it. You are tumbled and buried as the snow charges pell mell down the slopes, maybe smashing you into trees or boulders, maybe not, maybe coughing you up at the end by spitting you out of the snow, maybe burying you alive.

When I was a little kid my mom would take me in the summertime to Herradura Beach in Miraflores, Lima, Peru. One day I got caught in a big wave (it seemed big to a five or six-year-old) and I tumbled and tumbled in the churning waters until I rose out of the surf, coughing and spitting out sea water. A gentleman bather picked me out of the water by my trunks and took me to the sandy beach and deposited me next to my mom.

I had been carried along by the churning waters and had lost control.
That is happening today all around us. We are bombarded with information, coming at us from every corner of our day it seems, from Public Radio as you go to work, to checking your email on your tablet right before you go to sleep, it never stops.

Our circuits are overloaded. Too much electrical juice flowing through a wire will cause the circuit breakers or fuses to break the circuit. Pop.

This break is in fact built into the system by the designers. But, while we don’t have circuit breakers and fuses in our brains, we need to step in here, just like brain surgeons to correct a problem.

We almost literally have lost the ability to think clearly and quietly, not for lack of any brain power, but for lack of time to do so. We are on an avalanche or caught in a huge wave and undertow, and the only way to break away is to pull the plug, or break the circuit which is overloading us with useless information.

When the principal way of communicating with the public by our President contains only 140 characters or less—a Tweet—we are in trouble of becoming a nation of shallow inanities. Nothing is filtered through our usual filters of experience, knowledge, civility, history, clarity, and maturity.
We blurt out whatever surfaces to top of our mind, like a child of four or five.

What is amazing is that so many think tweeting is the norm in communicating. Few stop to read or listen to something longer. The next breaking news is waiting to jump in and replace the last Tweet.

When the President tweeted that he would build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the U.S. and they would pay for it, it almost staggers the imagination that he would make such an absurd promise, and people believed him.

The larger principle, his defenders explained, was to get control of illegal immigration into the U. S., a position I agree with completely. But to think the Mexicans will pay for a wall?

C’mon Mr. President, you ran too many beauty queen shows, where superficiality and looks drives the competition.

But why pick on the President? His critics are equally inane. Remember Nancy Pelosi’s “We have to pass the bill so that you can see what is in it.”

Let me suggest the beginnings of a fix. We have to start somewhere.

All the White House staff, from the President on down, as well as all members of Congress, and their staff, and might as well throw in the judges and staff of the Supreme Court, need to step away from the avalanche and be required to attend a one-hour presentation once a week for the next three years.

They will turn off their cell phones, put their tablets on mute, and listen for one hour to presentations on our American civilization.

I will be glad to chair the committee to create the curriculum. Suggestions are welcome.

Published as “Avalanche of Media is Overloading Our Circuits,” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday July 23, 2017

Posted in: Life in America