That single digit billion dollar gap is trivial compared to what the country has likely already seen after a year-long torture test of a presidential campaign, followed up with the looming tenure led by a person whose unpredictability and lack of respect for historical precedent, combined with a filter-free ability to share his half-formed thoughts with the world has everyone guessing what headline will flare up next.
The fidgety and distracted half-attentive employees in corner cubicles who may have been pulling for upset picks to win their bracket are instead replaced by entire teams of workers who are on edge - possibly unsure whether their place in the world is safe, whether their rights are going to be protected as new leaders rewrite and repeal the laws, or simply numb and horrified from the scandal of the day. And, if the 2016 campaign and post-election news cycles have been any hint as to what's to come over the next few years, this feeling, resembling post-traumatic stress disorder, will be felt in some capacity for a large percentage of the population for some time.
"Sharon, you've been watching CNN for about 8 weeks now.Don't you want to watch something else?" -- South Park
If it's at all possible to act as if politics were not part of this discussion, leaving aside my strong support for Hillary and revulsion to Trump... putting aside the real life-threatening possibility that he and his team will ignite wars, stir up hatred against people who don't match his criteria of perfection, and the domino effects of reducing health care for millions and denying environmental impacts that threaten the very world... the very spectacle of distraction alone will seep in its darkness, sapping morale and focus.
The volume of noise and conflict around Trump is unprecedented in a connected age, when everyone can consume and share information instantly. And while Twitter has had its challenges, it has become the epicenter for the latest volley of noise from the president elect. Buzzfeed recently said noise around Trump had crested 10 times higher than the previous first family of the network -- the Kardashians.
At this point, even logging in to a social network, be it Facebook, Twitter or any other, runs into the possibility someone is talking about who Trump might be or what he might do. The campaign even brought the debate of whether you could trust news sources to the fore. The entire Web is infested.
Conversations among friends, neighbors, and colleagues either tiptoe around the election or confront it head on, but it's always there, in the way the tragedy of 9/11 was on everyone's mind for the months and years following the attacks. It's a distraction not just for a few hoops jockeys or degenerates, but for tens to hundreds of millions of people, and won't just last a month, but, most likely, for years.
Maybe this administration isn't going to be as alarming and disruptive as we all predict. Possibly after we all look at this like passing a smoldering wreck on the freeway, we can continue forward, but the rhetoric and policies promised to hit us seemingly have us positioned for a half decade of PTSD, which will impact everyone. This madness won't end with a buzzer beater from Gonzaga.
Disclosures: I work at Google, a perceived partner and occasional competitor to Twitter, which I use constantly. I was also more than happy to donate to Hillary's 2016 campaign.