I shared two meals today with two separate groups of people. And I realized that good Lord Almighty, my eyes never rested. Ever. I was looking at my food, glancing around the table to see if anyone was speaking, double-, triple- and quadruple-checking to make sure no one was talking and that it was okay to say something; visually roaming the table to figure out who was talking and what they were talking about and checking, re-checking and re-re-checking to see if anyone was talking to me and if I needed to react to anything (laugh when everyone else laughed, etc).
I've heard that when you lose one sense, the others overcompensate. I've always been more sensitive to smell than the rest of my family and I'm pretty particular about being touched. Whether that has anything to do with hearing loss or my own personal quirks remains to be seen, of course, but come jump to conclusions with me, will you?
As it turns out, there could actually be a parallel between hearing loss and enhanced visual perception. One of my Facebook friends posted this article about how deaf and hard of hearing people actually see differently than hearing people - not better, just differently.
Do you know what this sounds like to me? SUPERPOWERS, awww yeah! How did I get from visual perception to superpowers, you might be asking. That would be an excellent question but unless you, too, have grown up on a media diet of X-Men (That last movie really spoke to me. And by "movie," I mean James McAvoy) and Heroes, I'm afraid my reasoning would be lost on you anyway."And for people who are deaf, it's been discovered that visual attention is heightened in their peripheral vision. A hearing person has 360 degrees of perception, since your brain can locate objects based on sounds. But those who are deaf, Allen says, lose 180 degrees of that perception.
So researchers think the deprived auditory areas of the brain reorganize to better process visual information. As a result, people are more sensitive to moving stimuli in their periphery, like a car speeding toward them in the street."
I need to know what's going on around me at all times, so I am constantly looking and scanning and glancing and gazing and searching... these powers can be used for both good and evil. You definitely want me on your team if we're playing hide-and-seek but I'm also easily distracted when the smallest motion enters my peripheral vision. I'm always aware of my surroundings but when I'm talking to someone, I tend to look around them but not at them. I need to be more disciplined about that - with great power comes great responsibility, you know.
So there we are. I'm not just hard of hearing... I'm visually-enhanced! ;) Think there's room for one more at Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters?
(Obligatory James McAvoy picture from the Google. Just because. You're welcome.)