Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

NY Times online edition (June 12, 2007) had a great story entitled "A Ring Tone Meant to Fall on Deaf Ears" written by Paul Vitello.

It describes the latest rage among teenagers: "a ring tone that many adults cannot hear.

In settings where cellphone use is forbidden — in class, for example — it is perfect for signaling the arrival of a text message without being detected by an elder of the species.

"When I heard about it I didn't believe it at first," said Donna Lewis, a technology teacher at the Trinity School in Manhattan. "But one of the kids gave me a copy, and I sent it to a colleague. She played it for her first graders. All of them could hear it, and neither she nor I could."

The technology, which relies on the fact that most adults gradually lose the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, was developed in Britain but has only recently spread to America — by Internet, of course....

The cellphone ring tone was the offshoot of an invention called the Mosquito, developed last year by a Welsh security company to annoy teenagers and gratify adults, not the other way around. It was marketed as an ultrasonic teenager repellent, an ear-splitting 17-kilohertz buzzer designed to help shopkeepers disperse young people loitering in front of their stores while leaving adults unaffected.

The principle behind it is a biological reality that hearing experts refer to as presbycusis, or aging ear. Most adults over 40 or 50 seem to have some symptoms, scientists say.

While most human communication takes place in a frequency range between 200 and 8,000 hertz (a hertz being the scientific unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second), most adults' ability to hear frequencies higher than that begins to deteriorate in early middle age.

"It's the most common sensory abnormality in the world," said Dr. Rick A. Friedman, an ear surgeon and research scientist at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles.

But in a bit of techno-jujitsu, someone — a person unknown at this time, but probably not someone with presbycusis — realized that the Mosquito, which uses this common adult abnormality to adults' advantage, could be turned against them.

The Mosquito noise was reinvented as a ring tone...."

Matt DePrez, youth pastor at Sturgis Wesleyan Church, used this in his illustrated sermon last weekend for graduation Sunday. The entire congregation was asked to stand and then sit down if they couldn't hear the tone. Sure enough, all that remained standing were under 40 except for two senior citizens who admitted later they couldn't hear the instructions.

Matt talked about Samuel hearing God's voice even when Eli could not. He challenged the teens to keep expecting and listening for God's voice. He also challenged adults to help the next generation learn how to respond when God does call!

May God heal our "spiritual presbycusis" so we listen clearly and lead effectively...on the edge!

*Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'" (1st Samuel 3:8-9 NIV)