Thursday, August 19, 2010

Getting Older Can Be Creepy...

So, I'm sitting at lunch listening to my boss talk about these ring tones that only teenagers can hear. At first it sounded like a joke, but I did a little research and found on the NPR website this article. Then I did some more digging around and found a website all about these "Mosquito Ring tones".

It turns out that as you grow older, your hearing gets damaged. It's a perfectly natural phenomenon called presbyusis. But my reaction to finding out about this effect was a two-fold. My first reaction was a series of flashes of insight. An instant understanding of certain things like the constant battle between the young and old over the definition of music, why certain songs sound different from when I heard them when I was younger, etc.

The second reaction was being creeped out. Even though I had picked up on a couple of things, that hearing loss was such a subtle change that went by virtually unnoticed. How many other things have I missed, simply because I was human and by definition lacked the necessary complexity to pick up on it? It's the type of idea that frightens me down to the core of who I am. People, myself included, think that the things that change your life forever are big events: explosions, deaths, etc, and as such you have some kind of marker. You have some way of knowing that on THAT day you became a different person entirely. But that's not the truth. It's just a comforting lie, we tell ourselves so we can feel better. The real truth is that the real life changing events aren't big, but small. Exceedingly tiny moments. It's not the death of a parent that alters the child forever, it's a little after when the child realizes it has lost one of the strongest connections it had to the world. It's one step closer to being all alone. THAT is the moment that changes the child forever. And there is no signpost for that.

Most people never even notice.

Like I said, it's creepy. The idea that something that can so powerfully alter their, your, our... my reality can go by completely unnoticed.

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