Mini-rant on led lights

I posted the following on the Facebook page, “Ban LED lights,” January 1, 2020

Glad to have found this group. I don’t Facebook much but hope you all will allow me to share the tip of the iceberg of my own LED experiences.

I simply can’t begin to describe how the rise of LED/HID lighting has affected my life and health. I drive into Atlanta, Georgia for work every day. It’s between one hour and an hour-and-a-half commute. For several years now, I have suffered from deep, intense migraines (which last the entire day), light tracers in my field of vison (which last hours), anxiety, anger, and frustration because of these new headlights and streetlamps.

The first thing I experience as I pull out of my driveway in the morning is my neighbor’s LED porch lights, which are left blazing throughout the night, every night. I had to buy room-darkening curtains for the entire front of my house because of these clueless and inconsiderate people. Now the neighbors behind me are jumping on the trend.

The HOA has already replaced all streetlights with high-temperature LEDs, which flood the streets with their harsh impenetrable blue glare. Why, then, do folks think they need to blast multiple LEDs from their porches as well? Oh, one of my neighbors has bright blue LEDs gleaming from the top of every fence post. This makes crazy seem sane.

During my drive into Atlanta, I encounter hundreds of normal-intensity LEDs, which is bad enough. But then there’s countless high-intensity headlights on raised pickup trucks, jeeps, and semis. These are unbearable and create a glare that makes safe lane changing or passing impossible, especially when one of these vehicles comes straight at me from over a hill. I have also seen high-intensity white LEDs blazing from the backs of vehicles while they’re driving forward, as well as from sideview mirrors, from wheel wells, and from license plates holders – all as bright as headlights!

In many cases, I see the use of this lighting as nothing short of assault, and it’s getting worse each month.

Assault — no, that’s not an exaggeration. Demographically, big fans of these lights are drivers of raised 4×4 pickups with deafening exhaust systems who tail other drivers no matter how fast they’re driving. Lighting on the roads has become an intimidation tactic. It has nothing to do with safety. DPS has got to start addressing that!

I don’t usually meme, but I was feeling this one.

These days when I drive, I’m tempted to hold my hands up to shield my eyes from light coming into my windshield and reflecting in my rearview and side mirrors. But I don’t have enough hands to do this and hold the wheel! So I just squint (which isn’t exactly safe either), and I’ve developed a pronounced ridge across my brow as a result. I also now keep my rearview mirror constantly dimmed, which I never had to do before, esp. during the day. This is not ideal, but I have no choice.

At the current rate of increase in the quantity and intensity of these lights on cars, streets, and structures, it’s fair to say I’ll no longer be able to drive in the dark in about a year. It just won’t be safe to do so, and my health won’t allow it much longer anyway. This means that I’ll have to find a new job if my work doesn’t let me go full-time remote.

Note how the LED headlights absorb and conceal the object projecting them. Safe, huh?

When I get to work, I pull into the parking lot and it’s like I’m under interrogation given all the large LED panels in the garage. By the time I sit down at my desk, I am drained and angry. My head is pounding. The focus is literally out of balance between each of my eyes! And then, I still have to sit in front of an LED computer monitor for 8 hours to work. Coworkers wonder why I don’t turn on my office lights (overhead fluorescents, which is a different story).

People hear me complain and say I’m overly sensitive – that I have the problem. I have also been mocked. A common argument for using the new lights, aside from the myths of “safety” and “economy,” is that they’re “cool.” If you can’t handle them, then you’re not cool. Got it? This is our society.

In the winter, when the sun sets earlier, my drive home is an equal nightmare. I can’t believe people are not only embracing this lighting but are also becoming obsessed with it. I’ve seen folks walking dogs with LED frisbees and kids with them on their shoes! I got home the other night and felt hopelessly isolated, as if society had left me far behind — I’m only 45! I don’t understand how more people aren’t affected as I am. It’s like a Twilight Zone episode, and I’m the only conscious person in a town of LED zombies!

The pic below is of the Sunoco gas station in Carrollton, GA (December 31, 2019) on Northside Dr. and Stewart St. That gas station is just one of 5 or 6 in town that have several high-intensity LED lights spilling out from their property and onto the street, literally preventing those driving by from clearly seeing surroundings, including oncoming traffic. The city of Carrollton has developed a serious problem with unregulated lighting, as have many other cities across the nation. It’s not just the gas stations and drivers, but also the streetlights, city buildings, homes, and other businesses. I simply cannot shop or dine there after dark – haven’t been able to for years. And now, day driving is become intolerable, too.

Okay, rant over. By the way, I am currently finishing a dystopian satire novel that mocks the recent lighting fetish and other social/technological absurdities of our time (Assistant Director Tito’s Weedless Dog Farm, now available on Amazon; see link under the “Fiction” menu). An except is included below:

   One of the greatest technological achievements of the Future was micro-laser lights, an inexpensive, portable, highly intense option for brightening up anything, at all times, anywhere, in whatever color. But MLLs weren’t for illumination as much as to make things seem impressive. Most MericHoans, in fact, had a fixation with artificial light. Historians agree that this reflected not only a primal fear of the dark, but also a caveman-like captivation by fire. So the ability to control lighting kindled an instinct in these people, who used MLLs in many ways that early humans used flame, such as proof of status, tribal bonding, mating rituals, and to intimidate possible invaders.
   The great thing about MLLs was that they were tiny, no more than a pinpoint in size, but could blast a stream of migraine-inducing luminescence two miles down the road. Some gave important signals – such as when it was okay to pull a box of cereal from a store shelf – but most meant nothing. Instead, they gave MericHoans a sense of being safe and in control, like they were living in times of great progress. After all, things can’t be that bad if your toilet blinks once when not in use, twice when you’re on it, and thrice when flushing.
   People of the Future loved to stand out, and they could stand out in phosphorescent glory with a string of MLLs on their stuff. The edges and contours of vehicles were lined with the chic little sunbeams. Buses and trucks looked like holiday trees barreling down the highway. The lights were used in necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and other beacons of status or love. Clothes were laced with thin MLL strands. Lights even pulsated in underwear and lingerie, whether to tell you when you had them on right, or to tell others you were aroused. Scientists also invented a tattoo ink that radiated colorful MLL lighting as bright as any on electronics. This godsend ensured that people would have no choice but to witness how awesome your tats were. Seemingly, plain-old ink and sleeveless shirts were no longer cutting it.
   Brainy homes came with micro-laser lights to tell you when your lights were on, and when they were off – a bit odd, if you think about it; but whatever, it was the Future. Home appliances used similar tech. How else would you know that you were toasting bread or watching TV unless a steady green light told you so? Spotlight-style MLLs radiated from front porches, presumably to keep families safe from low-flying planes and photosensitive burglars. Holiday lighting, however, was a thing of the past in the Future, as every home always boasted an array of colorful bulbs to accent its faux mansion architecture.
   Micro-laser lights on bike helmets, running shoes, and dog toys didn’t simply alert others to your presence, but they heralded it like the sun. Social approval also derived from these lights. Schools used them for grading – white and shimmering signified excellence, throbbing red meant failure. Sports associations bestowed MLL trophies on athletes to signify their immense contributions to society, as did film guilds for actors. Strobing MLLs in carwashes imparted vital information, such as the start of the rinse cycle or the spraying of the wax. Doctors even prescribed micro-laser light headbands for migraines and MLL wraps for joint pain.
   Usually, Kentucky wasn’t affected by society’s lighting fetish. But today was different. He already had a headache from Scout’s cologne, Inclusivity’s coffee spill, and the torturous training meeting. He was also overwhelmed with paperwork. But at that moment, as he attempted to perform one of the most basic natural tasks known to mammals, that helpful little urinal lantern pierced his eyeballs and left traces in his field of vision. “Where would we be,” he wondered, “without this technology?”
   So Kentucky stood there, squinting at the toilet, as folks did in the Future. He had attained six seconds of peace, when the PMG of the guy in the stall next to him began signaling an incoming message. The amplified tone was obnoxious, consisting of a monotonous rhythm and shrill vocals from an out-of-tune, nasally pop singer. And, as if that hadn’t been jarring enough, the guy let it ring. Clearly, the man longed for others to share in the thrill of his PMG, which by then was projecting a strobing disco ball effect, in case the sound had gone unnoticed.
   About to lose it, Kentucky zipped up. At the sink, he tried to splash water on his face. In the Future, however, faucets were automatic, and the sensor failed to activate. Waiting and waving, Kentucky repositioned his hands – still nothing. Then, as he was pulling away, a stream of water came gushing out, ricocheting off the ceramic bowl and soaking his shirt. In frustration, Kentucky punched the towel dispenser after it rolled out only the slightest edge of a sheet, jammed, and started flashing a yellow light. Shaking off his hands, he returned to his cubicle.

Excerpt from chapter 3 of "Assistant Director Tito's Weedless Dog Farm," now available on Amazon (see "Fiction" menu above for link). All rights reserved. Joshua J. Reynolds. 2021.

© Joshua Reynolds 2020. All rights reserved.