I am a cautious consumer. I rarely buy new products or gadgets I have spent the entirety of my life living without. However, I have recently surprised myself by considering the pragmatic advantages of owning a pair of night vision goggles.
The first obvious application for night vision goggles is to strengthen my marriage. My wife and I both read in bed, but she falls asleep first, and she has trained me to understand that my own happiness is proportional to how well-rested she is. I use a Kindle to minimize light pollution in our bedroom, but Kindle editions are often poorly edited and cumbersome to navigate. Whenever I read physical copies, I use an LED clip lamp, but its intense, focused beam straddles the edge of overkill. If I drift off, and the book slips from my grasp, my wife awakens to the visual equivalent of a welder’s torch hovering in her face. We have ruled out a sleeping mask for her, so night vision goggles have become the most viable solution. The only drawback I anticipate is in having to fumble with straps to dab at my tears each time I finish The Return of the King.
I first began considering the night vision option a few days after hanging the camera for my son’s baby monitor. Although I contend the baby monitor is overused in our household, I admit I am impressed by its quality. If we hear my son stirring, we can observe a high-resolution image of him blinking into the dark with huge, luminous eyes, like an experimental hybrid of a raccoon and a squid. We cringe at his contorted efforts to fall asleep. We intervene when he has gotten both legs stuck between the crib slats. But rescuing him is a blind process of trial and error. In his vulnerable, semi-conscious state, it must be both uncomfortable and humiliating for him to be dragged around in the dark and have every orifice of his head prodded with a pacifier. I do not know the sum impact on his psyche, but it cannot be good. Again, night vision goggles are an enticing solution. They will secure a happier future for my son.
The issue reaches its moral apex when I take my yard into consideration. A burrowing animal is destroying it, and much of the damage is done at night. I am not sure if it is a mole or a gopher or ants, but the patch of grass off our patio is looking more lunar each day. An exterminator could solve the problem in one afternoon, but I am uneasy about this course of action. I believe I should have to look my enemy in the eye before I call in a drone strike. If I set up a hunter’s blind next to the barbecue and don my night vision goggles, who knows what I will discover. Maybe I will be touched and inspired by the gopher’s industriousness. Maybe there are baby gophers involved. Or maybe it will just look like a rat is digging holes in my yard. If this is the case, his hours might be numbered. Regardless, an informed and ethical course of action is only possible if I have some way of seeing in the dark.
A stable marriage. Well-adjusted children. A modest piece of land. These emblems of adulthood resonate across cultures and time, but few technologies are versatile enough to promote all three. Night vision goggles are less than two-hundred dollars on Amazon. I am inclined to believe they will soon be an indispensable tool of 21st century living.