I was having a chat with some friends a while ago and we managed to stumble onto the discussion of whether you would rather be deaf or blind, which, is an unusually deep topic for my friends because our conversations at lunchtime normally consist of sassy comebacks and ‘good banter’.
Anyway, I took the conversation literally, and started imagining I was actually deaf or blind which really got thinking about my answer. After a lot of consideration, midnight thinking and asking my mother, I have come to the conclusion my answer would have to be blind.
Almost everyone disagreed with me, including my mother, which is understandable because there are a lot of benefits to having eyesight; walking in a straight line being one of them. Of course there are other benefits too like, seeing people you love, watching films, seeing people smile, making a cup of tea without pouring hot water on yourself and indefinitely causing 3rd degree burns, putting on makeup (accurately), and a lot of other things that people take for granted. But one of the most important things that I think about when imagining I was blind would be a loss of independence, because even though after time you would learn where things are in your house or you would have a stick or guide dog to be able to cross the street, there would still be a huge amount of things you could no longer do alone or do at all.
If there is one thing I’ve wanted to do my entire life, it would be travelling. For as long as I can remember (excuse the cliché) I’ve wanted to travel the world, to go everywhere, and see everything, which obviously is an issue if I can’t actually see. But as much as I want to see the world I’d much rather be able to just be there, as an experience, to me that’s far more important. I’d rather hear my friends describe the view to me, than be unable to communicate with them, because even though people can learn sign language, the inability to communicate fluently with everyone I know would kill me more than anything. Even speaking would be out of the question if you were deaf. I mean if you couldn’t hear anything a whole world of language would be lost to you. To be honest it would probably be a blessing for my friends and family because once I start talking I never shut up.
Music is another thing that is completely meaningless if you’re deaf. I love music and without it I would get extremely bored in every car journey, every long walk, every party, every moment spent alone working, every time on the bus when you’re trying your absolute hardest not to make eye contact with any weirdo’s entering the bus so they don’t sit next to you and seriously invade all of your personal space. I don’t know why but I quite like just listening to music alone, that’s pretty much what I’m doing right now while writing this. Being able to name my favourite song or band when people ask me and dancing to those songs is a pleasure I think too many people take for granted. Singing in the car is the highlight of my day sometimes and I am in no way willing to give that up.
I guess the reason so many people wouldn’t chose blind is a safety thing, because of course if you were blind your ability to see what was coming would not exist. This would undoubtedly cause problems if someone was running at you with a knife, but what are the chances of that happening? And if I’m honest even with eyesight I’d be useless in any confrontational situation like that anyway. Again, I can see why people would choose deaf over blind, but on a personal level, I just don’t agree.