Gary Horton: System overload requires a reboot


By now you’ve heard it all before. You may think there’s nothing new to add to the conversation and, if there was, you’re already far to overloaded to add anything more to the stack.

We’ve heard it all before from North Korea to school shootings to another Whiter House top aide fired through ignominious tweets.

Scandals and shocks to our systems continue, apparently unabated. Another school shooting just this morning. A brand-new bridge falling apart just this weekend. Our Secretary of State, fired in a tweet.

Of course, these days much or most of the news is Donald Trump, real time, full time, prime time, all the time. His airtime ratings are through the roof. His popularity ratings—not so much. But any PR is good PR, so they say and Trump indisputably gets the PR.

Amidst this Trump 24/7, we’re facing total overload. It’s not far-fetched to say most folks have literally lost track of Trump lies, Trump insults, Trump firings, Trump ethics violations, Trump scandals, Trump affairs, Trump golf trips, Trump… sigh.

There used to be a day where Fox’s big news story was Obama wearing a tan suit instead of the standard-issue blue ones, or Michelle Obama wearing sleeveless dresses. Then, there was the time Obama had the policeman over for beers on the White House lawn. Oh, yawn.

Conversely, few contest we’re in overload mode today, with scant room for any more shock and awe at tomorrow’s next surprise. Still, there’s a, “What’s coming up?” morbid curiosity.

Like reality TV: Stormy Daniels had Trump’s kid? Dick pics released? An affair with Hope Hicks? Melania flying the coup? Russian pee tape we always knew was real gets played right on TV? IRS agent leaks the tax returns covered Russian bail-out loans? Mueller fired and Republicans do nothing?

God. Only. Knows.

All this Trumpapolooza adds up to the sky is always falling, a boy crying wolf, everything is a disaster, and nothing is sacred anymore to the point we just don’t care. We’ve been fully desensitized and, maybe, that was the grand plan in the first place.

Overload desensitizes us.

We hear so much that we can’t hear anymore. Our ears are full. We see so much we can’t see anymore. We feel so much we’re fully spent. We give in and sigh, “That’s just Trump” to Trump national debasements.

After six or seven years of putting it off, I finally got hearing aids. Yes, many procrastinate this move as it so firmly reminds us that we’re really, actually, getting old. Once you cross the line to hearing aids, there’s not much hiding it from yourself.

You’ve got to put them in each day, fiddle with the batteries, find them when you lose them, and generally futz around in order to hear. Not good for our vanity.

But vanity aside, with good hearing aids, you do get to hear again.

I didn’t know just how desensitized my hearing had become. When my audiologist reached for a piece of paper I heard a certain, “whoosh” as her fingers brushed across the sheet.

“What’s that!” I first thought. Really? That sound is what other people have been hearing all the time?

And the noise out on the street.

I had no idea Valencia Boulevard was so loud. And the cymbals in that Bowie song. You mean they don’t just sound like “clicks” but rather ring and shimmer for an extended period of time?

On and on, a seemingly whole new world of sounds and inflections and music returned—after time and wear and tear had desensitized my ability to recognize sounds for what they actually were.

Desensitizing is like that. Wearing us down constantly; pretty soon we don’t hear, see, feel or think with the same sharpness we used to. Things get by us, and we don’t even notice or don’t even care because we can’t.

We’ve been desensitized.

This isn’t good for hearing, and its far worse for democracy. Yes, the news is overloading. Yes, the trash keeps flying at us through our TV channels.

Yet, amidst all this, stick to your moral compass. Amidst the deluge, stay the course with civility and civic behavior.

We have to cut through the crap Washington throws at us and demand a return to decency and good governance.

Washington might not want us to care, but care we must—as though we have new hearing aids for our sense of normalcy, propriety, legitimacy and integrity.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. His column, “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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