Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Emotional Ramifications of Bleeps and Bloops

The iPhone needs more options for the new text message sound. There are only six beeps, bongs, and honks available, with no ability to add new ones.

I say this not out of a vain need for customization, but for the emotional well-being of iPhone users.

This is modern life:

You meet someone you like, and she likes you enough to give you her phone number. You send her an innocuous text, then wait with breath abated for a reply. BONG, an innocuous text in return. You do this back-and-forth a few times and soon each message contains not just neutral words but embedded emotion.

Eventually it's BEEP BEEP here are your plans for the evening; DING! here comes a compliment you'll remember for the rest of your life. You precede those consequences with that sound enough times, and they become inextricably linked. A smile hits your lips and your heart leaps into your throat with every buzz of your pocket.

Maybe you go on a few adventures. Maybe you screw. Maybe you make plans for the future. But nothing lasts forever, and when things inevitably go sour, all the positive associations with that tone become ambivalent, then negative. Finally, DONG! we need 2 talk.

Those associations are embedded deep, and they never quite go away. Alerts for even the most frivolous texts now make your mouth go dry; they're Pavlov's bell in reverse.

It doesn't take long to cycle through all six tones.

Technology is so embedded in our lives that we must increasingly consider not only its practical ramifications, but the full spectrum of human emotion as well.

7 comments:

Forest City Fashionista said...

You've obviously spent a lot of time thinking about this--sounds like you're recovering from a texting/sexting situation that went bad. My thinking is, don't get emotionally attached to the tone. I've just got one neutral beep for everyone, that way, each text is a surprise and not a potential loaded grenade of emotion.

Anonymous said...

You need the bad beeps to appreciate the greatness of the good beeps. Or some shit like that.

Tatiana said...

Yep, I think both those comments cover the gamut of things to say on the subject... :)

Johnson said...

You could always do what I do, record the sound of a fart and set it as the sound that plays for text messages. That way every single message you receive, regardless of whether your waiting for good or bad news, makes you giggle.

Phronk said...

This is all hypothetical and academic. Not me at all.

I don't have different tones for each person or anything, but often go through periods where the vast majority of texts are from the same person. So the fixed tone at the time automatically gets paired with her, no matter how hard I try to not let it.

Er I mean, how hard hypothetical person tries.

I wish I could use the fart technique, but the iPhone doesn't let me! Another reason for jailbreaking I suppose.

Dan said...

Just more prove that iPhones suck dude. I win!!!!!

shine said...

My text alert scares the shit out of me every. single. time.

But it's the least obnoxious of the bunch.