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Phones Should Ring

xkcd #479: Tones

Danielle just sent me a link to this comic, xkcd #479, saying that it is me. Yes, I don’t like musical cell phone ring tones.

The ringer on a phone is designed to be an interruption. It’s point is to draw your attention to the fact that someone (or something) is calling you. It is to notify you that something requires your attention. For maximum effect the noise doing so should be distinct from other day to day noises, perhaps even slightly bothersome; exactly the same as an alarm clock sound. Therefore, I don’t understand why someone would want a favorite song of theirs to be providing this notification.

I really wonder why would someone want their favorite song’s hook being used as a device to grab their attention and prompt them into action. Are people trying to turn themselves off to something?

This thought doesn’t even begin to touch on how many musical ring tones happen to be in a frequency range which doesn’t do a good job of standing out from background noise, making it so that the user doesn’t hear their phone when it rings. Or what about those which start out quiet enough that the first five seconds of ringing isn’t particularly audible. Isn’t the point of having a phone ring so that one can hear it?

One Comment

  1. Na
    Na October 21, 2008

    There is another reason why people choose their favorite song. It’s because if everyone chose the alarm sound, no one would know who’s phone was ringing. I always chose something particularly offbeat (ie. the theme from The Muppets), because few other people will have this ring and I can always recognize when my phone is ringing when in a crowd.

    Having said that, the number of teen girls out there who select the same flavor-of-the-month song hook is enough for anyone to just get rid of the damn phones altogether.

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