Comfortably Dumb


I’m an early riser. It’s a habit I kept from being in a family of twelve. First one up got dibs on the bathroom, the refrigerator and the iron, in that order. You snooze, you will always lose. Plus, it was quiet. Beautifully still and silent. It wouldn’t be long before the all the noise and confusion would permeate the house and the fight over the one bathroom would more often than not, escalate to violence.

My father would be long gone on his way to work, where he showered and took most of his meals. He would come home at night and go straight to bed. You could go the whole week and never see him. Those mornings, I would duck behind the couch until he left. I asked my mother once what my father did at work. She said “he makes money”.

I imagined him at some type of punch press punching out nickels, dimes and quarters. I never considered paper money because I never saw any. Her explanation made perfect sense to me at the time.

I still love the quiet of the morning and I hardly ever see daylight when I rise. That’s the time when I assess my life and decide, or try to anyway, what makes its way into my consciousness first. I have an elaborate studio over my garage with a futon, a TV and more computers than a (normal) man should have. I usually go to a local TV station first for the weather because I like to ride, run or walk outside and the only thing that changes that routine is rain.

Then the circus begins. The brawl for my attention. The most ridiculous, shoddy, no thought given content ever created, starts coming at me from every screen in that room. They can’t be serious, can they?

I bet they wouldn’t run that nonsense in the daylight or prime time. The worst car, furniture and restaurant commercials you can imagine, with the audio jacked up to make sure you don’t miss the message. Quick! Where’s the mute button?

Then my computer freezes up. Even a system designed for editing and processing terabytes of video content can’t handle 9 video commercials trying to load at the same time while a full screen graphic with no x shoves itself down my gullet. What is going on here? Are these people crazy? This is like the fight over the bathroom all over again. You expect to sell something using sensory overload?

By now, my world view has changed. After 30 minutes of local news filled with hit and runs, house fires and traffic warnings while my computer reboots to regain some ram.

Now you have succeeded in beating the wonder out of me. In your desperate attempt to get my attention you have shut me down. Total media overload. Someone must be taking the bait or else they would run out of money producing this shit. Wouldn’t they?

This lunacy, trying to pass itself off as commerce, does more harm than good. We tune out. We have to, don’t you get that? Pelting people with predictable and unimaginative sales jargon and cluttering up people’s brains with noise and repetition is almost impossible to take, especially when you first become conscious. Here, open wide!

Lately, I’ve been sitting in the dark quiet, sipping my coffee, feeling my existence and easing myself into my day. Looney tunes can wait. It is here, that I am truly, comfortably dumb.


Strait jacket

If you have any questions or need advice, please feel free to reach out to me here.

Bob O’Hearn

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Please note: I welcome comments that are offensive, illogical or off-topic from readers in all states of consciousness.

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