There’s Something Off About LED Bulbs

When I’m stressed, or I feel life is spinning out of control, I buy lights.

I’m sure there’s something symbolic in that action.

Over the years I’ve picked up a half dozen photography lights with umbrella reflectors, and as the cool-white spiral fluorescent bulbs fail — one every two years or so — I’ve been replacing them with LEDs. 

As rechargeable batteries get cheaper and more efficient, and as LEDs get brighter, I’ve picked up at least a dozen USB-rechargeable LED work lights and flashlights, and a half dozen motion-sensitive portable rechargeable lights in the garage and in the walkway between my bed and the master bath, and along a dark hallway that isn’t near a light switch.

I have a handful of fancy color-variable lights that I can use to warm up the typically cold LED floodlights, but I’m no lighting snob. If it’s bright, it’s good enough for me.

Last night when the power went out for a few hours, I could easily produce a fully charged flashlight for each family member, and arrange motion-sensitive lights in the main traffic areas.

There aren’t that many incandescent lights left in our house, but there are plenty of the curly florescent ones, and I’ve started replacing those with LEDs. 

But I’ve also noticed I’m having trouble sorting out my socks.

I typically buy 12 pairs of black socks at a time, with the idea that when I’m in a rush I can just grab any two socks, but in reality the different vintages of socks I’ve bought over the years often look just different enough from each other that I find myself evaluating shades of gray or fabric textures looking for a matching pair.

I assumed the problem was just that I was aging, and my eyes are no longer those of a 20-year-old. (Or a 30-year-old. Or a 50-year-old.)

But maybe it’s not just aging… could it instead be all the new LED bulbs?

Years ago, I got a head start, joining the LED revolution with fervor. Screwing one into a socket vacated by an incandescent felt like the easiest good-citizen points I’d ever earned, as if I could keep on doing things exactly as before but with better and greener results. And the light coming out of the things was — well, it was light, right? I don’t remember how long it took to notice, or think I had noticed, a series of letdowns: a faded look to the page of a storybook, a flicker in the corner of the eye, those sudden unexplained failures or half-failures. A slate-blue sock that was indistinguishable from a charcoal-gray one till I brought them over by the window. A certain unreality was creeping in. — Tom Scocca, NY Mag

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *