Video: Deaf woman hears sound for the first time

Via Time, something to put a spring in your step on a slow Friday morning. Videos of people with hearing impairments reacting to sound for the first time after being fitted with cochlear implants are an Internet favorite. The first one to go viral that I can remember was this one three years ago; another one, this time involving a toddler, went viral last year. They’re always affecting but the age of the patient makes them poignant in different ways. The toddler’s reaction is a thunderbolt of wonderment at experiencing a new stimulus. The adults, who’ve grown up knowing they’re missing something momentous, erupt in catharsis when something finally appears in the void. It’s not a religious experience, but that’s the best metaphor I can imagine for feeling suddenly awakened to something profound but otherwise inaccessible that’s been all around you forever.

I wonder how much of a fear factor there is for patients once the implants are up and running. Hearing sound in a controlled environment like this is one thing. Walking around a city and being bombarded by endless strange noises that you’ve never imagined before must be on some level terrifying, like a blind person who’s just recovered his sight being pushed into a huge kaleidoscope.