September 28th, 2012
08:42 PM ET

Letters to the President #1348: 'Information overload'

Reporter's Note: President Obama has to deal with a tremendous amount of information, including one letter from me every day.

Dear Mr. President,

Today felt like one of those “uncontrolled noise” days. You know what I’m talking about; days when you have so many different thoughts, ideas, conversations, graphs, reports, reviews, newspapers, TV and radio shows, blogs, tweets, and frustrations that you find yourself wondering how anything ever gets done.

I’m speaking specifically about the presidential race, btw. For some reason I just felt buried beneath an avalanche…or maybe I should say a mudslide…of campaign news.

Years ago, I had no trouble disengaging when such matters pressed in too hard; when my head started spinning from too much information too fast. I would simply switch the radio to a music channel, roll down the windows, and between the fresh air and tunes I’d soon be thinking clearly again.

However, these days we are all so connected it seems almost impossible to make that trick work. Cell phones, blackberries, Wifi all over the place…sometimes I feel as if the news is streaming directly into my skull. I’ll probably wind up roaming the streets with aluminum foil wrapped around my head.

Normally I like learning a lot of new things every day. But now and then, I just feel as if the flow is so intense that I have no time to make any sense of any of it. I’m like some old silent film actor working on an out-of-control factory production line; just shoving pieces anywhere, everywhere, trying to keep up with the torrent. In those circumstances, none of what I hear seems to fit into a bigger picture. It’s just a hodgepodge of stuff; facts, figures, interviews, articles. On days like this, I get home late and my wife says, “So what was in the news today?” And despite having handled far more information than normal, I can only give her a blank stare and say, “Honestly…I have no idea.”

I hope your day was a bit more manageable than mine. And I hope you can call this weekend to commiserate.


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