Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What Does Your Ringtone Say About You?

Cell phones are everywhere and we wonder now how we ever got along without them.  Looking back just a few years, did you see that huge, walkie-talkie-like device Michael Douglas totted with him on the beach in "Wall Street?" It looked like he was calling in a position for a rocket or something. How did we ever tolerate cell phones that were that big? Huge, I should say. They were huge.

When was the last time you used a pay phone or even had to find one? Are there many around? Sure, if you watch "Person of Interest" on TV, they seem to be on every street corner because that's the only way the "machine" can communicate with the guys who have to save someone. Take a look in major transportation hubs like the huge bus terminal in New York City and see if that bank of telephones is still there. I don't think so. Well, the reason they took those out or decommissioned them was because they were providing plenty of opportunity for drug dealers and ladies looking for dates. So, pull the phones. All of that deletion of equipment pushed us ever further into cell phone land and now everyone has one, including little kids in school.

Cells, once accepted as needed for safety and to call mom or your boss, had to provide yet another marketing opportunity for something. Of course, you had to personalize it and if you had one that looked just like someone else's, how do you make it truly personal? Eureka, you've got it. A ringtone that was truly unique, but how do you do that?

Software was offered to you so you could, indeed, make that ring mean it's your's and no one else's that's ringing in a crowd. The thing that the software companies didn't tell you is that if you had an iPhone and iTunes on your computer, you could make your own ringtone. You didn't need to buy a thing.  Want to sound intellectual? Just roll out a ringtone with a Rachmaninoff concerto snippet. Of course, you can have anything from classical to hip-hop or you can even turn an audio you make into a ringtone. Easy as following the instructions on a microwave dinner.

But do these ringtones actually say something about you and your personality? They may or they may just serve as so much artifice to create an impression. But isn't it fun to try to figure out just what those ringtones mean? Yes, of course, someone has done research on this or is about to do research. Ah, yes, it's an "identity management device" now. So, next time, don't ask someone if you can borrow their cell. Ask to borrow their identity management device and watch the look you get.

Doesn't that sound sophisticated?  Not really because the word is grossly overused in the wrong context, but I'll leave that to the editors of The New York Times to dissect for you. We do need to manage the impressions we make on others and this little item may just, in some small way, do it for us. Some situations are more likely to accept a loud Carol Burnett yell (remember that skit on TV?) calling Tarzan but not in a boardroom. Clubs can make it very difficult to know if your cell is ringing, so here you really need something unique.

I listened in a waiting area today as people's cells went off. Of course, there was a large sign with a cell and a red line through it. Cells were only for emergencies in this area it indicated, so please turn your's off. Can you really turn your cell off? There are many reasons you wouldn't want to and a lot of them involve business calls or appointments or your child's school calling you. Emergencies don't only happen after you're out of a "cell phone free area" so it's really not always possible to comply. But at those moments when your phone does ring, is it going to turn everyone's head and you'll find a half dozen pairs of eyes staring in your direction? Yeah, could happen. That's when you will be glad you kept it on buzz and not ring.

One or two phones did go off and, frankly, I was glad mine didn't. Why is that? Well, I made a ringtone that announces, "I won't be ignored" and it sounds like I'm hiding a very small woman somewhere in my pocket, briefcase or backpack. Yes, I love it but most of all, I chuckle when someone turns around to see who's making that statement. Depending on my mood, I may just carefully click it to ignore the call and not let anyone know it's my cell. Other times, I let my cell know that, "Okay, okay, I won't ignore you." Yes, I enjoy the humor it brings into my life.

If we must have cells, let them give us some pleasure if only when they ring.