Blue LED Christmas lights are what’s wrong with Christmas.
I don’t care that Blue LED lights won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics, they give me the creeps.
I’ll get back to the Nobel Prize in a moment, for now let’s focus on these Blue Christmas lights.
Or should I say not focus.
The first problem with Blue LED Christmas lights is that you just can not focus on them.
Go try your hardest. When you look at them, they will literally be impossible to focus on.
There is a reason for this optical illusion.
It’s called chromatic aberration. In your eyeball, Blue light gets focused on the front of the retina and is not sharply focused like the other, longer color wavelengths. Unlike other colors, Blue light scatters in the eyeball. We’re helpless against it.
That’s why Army Snipers wear yellow shooting glasses and Dr. Geek rapped about Blu-Blocker Sunglasses.
When you filter out blue light, you see more clearly.
When they first came out, I thought Blue LED Lights were bizarre. A novelty. But now, in accordance with Moore’s Law, they are everywhere.
I even have a neighbor who did his entire house in just blue LED lights.
The effect makes his house look like it’s slowly getting sucked into a black hole. And let me tell you, a part of me wishes it would.
So not only can you not focus your eyes when you look at them, but worse, they might even be making us ill.
We all know by now that heavy doses of Blue light throw off your circadian rhythms and melatonin levels.
That is why people who work the night shift have increased cortisol levels, weakened immune systems, greater occurrences of obesity and are susceptible to certain types of cancer.
Light pollution is real and Blue LED Christmas lights are the Exxon Valdez.
But perhaps the worst thing about Blue LED’s, is the fact that they weren’t around when we were kids.
Nostalgia is the lifeblood of Christmas time.
Every year, we reenact the family traditions. We listen to the same songs, we bake the same cookies, we hang the same ornaments, we read the same stories, we watch Charlie Brown, we drink a Manhattan with our brothers, we string the lights.
Therein lies the genius behind movies like, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, “A Christmas Story”, and Dylan Thomas’ poem, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”. They are studies of the nostalgia and traditions of childhood’s greatest season.
When I was a little kid, the bubble lights on Grandma’s tree were magical. How do they bubble like that? And on our house we always hung big ceramic bulbs, and just like Clark Griswold, we staple-gunned the strands straight to the fascia.
Maybe you had colored lights too or went with the little all-white kind. Whatever you had, if you don’t have the same lights on your house and tree now that you’re an adult — believe me — you’re doing it wrong.
Imagine someone who erects and decorates a tree to match their living room at the expense of all their old ornaments. Not a single handmade popsicle-stick Santa or spray-painted-pasta-noodle ornament to be found? Where is the idiosyncrasy, the warts, the story in that?
A Christmas tree ends up being like a living document of you and your family.
You add the ornaments the kids make each year. You acquire others over time. Each ornament symbolic shorthand for a past you.
Eventually you can read a tree like a life story.
“Remember our first Christmas?”
“Remember when the White Sox somehow won the World Series in 2005?”
“Remember when you got that Hello Kitty tattoo removed?”
“Remember when I was an Elvis impersonator?”
How are you supposed to share these important memories when it hurts your eyes to look at the alien blue lights on the tree?
And that brings us back to the Nobel Prize, and the deeper problem with modern Christmas.
The Blue Light Emitting Diode was the final piece to the LED puzzle. The first LED color was red, and we’ve had it since the 60’s.
Eventually yellow and even green LED’s came along, but blue remained elusive.
Then when we finally got Blue, it was way brighter than any other previous LED by several factors.
Thus Blue LED’s quickly lead to “Brilliant White LED’s”. Followed by extremely small “Brilliant White LED’s”, requiring extremely small amounts of energy.
And not long after that, you read this sentence just now, on a smart phone, that is backlit by many Brilliant White LED’s.
And that’s why it won the Nobel Prize — because the discovery of the Blue LED changed the world in 2007, by facilitating the greatest invention of the 21st century — the Smart Phone.
Our smart phones, for better or worse, are the iconic symbol of our modern era.
And the self-absorbed, materialistic, addictive, overstimulated qualities proprietorially perpetuated therein have come to overshadow the quieter, reflective, restorative, more human side of Christmas.
Blue LED lights are constantly drawing your attention back to your smart phone — which unfortunately draws your attention away from all the non-LED-backlit things in life.
Thus Blue LED lights symbolize what’s wrong with Christmas, because they are making us less human.