Don’t Worry, Go Ahead and Eat That Apple

Hendrick Holtzius, 1616, "The Fall of Man." Note: Picture has been cropped to keep the cat.Album / National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

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I think we can all agree that good food manners are a good idea when you’re in a crowded, confined space like an airplane. Natalie Compton recommends, for example, that you not bring smelly foods like tuna sandwiches on board a flight.

Fine, I guess. But then there’s this:

Avoid: Eating “loud” foods

Before you start chomping into that perfectly crisp Fuji apple, consider the travelers with misophonia, a disorder that triggers physical and emotional responses to sounds like chewing, tapping and gum-snapping. But beyond them, the sound of gnawing on that fruit, or on corn nuts, or carrots, can be just plain obnoxious to everyone. Consider the auditory stimuli of eating your in-flight food, and avoid items that are noisier than most.

Seriously? We should avoid apples on the million-to-one chance that your seatmate happens to have a bizarre aversion to the sound of someone eating an apple? I’m surprised this leaves any food at all that can be eaten on airplanes. Pretty much any food is bound to have at least two or three people in the country who are triggered by its sound, smell, color, or Proust-like associations from youth.

I wouldn’t mention this except that it’s become entirely too common in daily life. We are endlessly being told that we should be sensitive about something we never thought twice about before, usually because there’s some small number of people who have serious reactions to it. Sometimes these people even invent pseudo-Greek names for their conditions even though there’s no known cause; it’s not listed in any diagnostic manual; and researchers make up out of thin air the claim that it’s quite common.

But life can’t be lived this way. We can’t go around avoiding anything that might trigger a reaction in a tiny number of people. Go ahead and eat that apple.

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