This morning I awoke to tiny electric shocks running down my arm. No, I'm not in electric shock therapy (not yet anyway) but rather I have a new device in my life...a FitBit. While the little buzzing wasn't unpleasant it was definitely effective as there's nothing quite as attention grabbing as having tiny pulses run incessantly up and down your arm. As I proceeded downstairs for my morning cup of java, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee further awoke my senses...but so did a nice electronic PING letting me know that the coffee was, in fact, fully percolated and ready for my enjoyment.
Whilst enjoying said coffee, the dishwasher and the clothes washer both PINGED within moments of each other indicating that not only were they complete but served as a reminder of 'hey, now you have some work to do, lady!' Also vying for attention this morning were the pings and whistles from the computer, iPad, phone, Facebook, voicemail, email and other reminder-type paraphernalia that rock/rule my world. A hastily scribbled list showed that I have things that ping, buzz, beep, and 'talk' to me on a regular basis and what's so interesting (and likely also terrifying) is that these sounds are as individual to me as are the voices of my children.
Let's talk about the 'voices' of the back up camera on my car provides, shall we? First of all there's the...'you're-in-reverse-now' ping, followed by a different ping that says 'hey, dummy, you're gettin' kind of close', and then the full on screech of 'oh my gosh, what are you doing????!!! That tree is RIGHT THERE, can't you see it?! Do you need glasses or something? How many times do I have to tell you to watch out?!!!' ping. I'm not particularly fond of that last one...it's kind of rude and a little negative. Then after pulling out into the street a different ping assaults my senses... it's the 'what the heck lady, you forgot to take off the parking brake' ping. Oops, sorry, I forgot to do that--got distracted by the whistle of an incoming text. As my children and I enjoy a few seconds of conversation...in between their texts, Facebook updates, group chats, and Instagram posts...another sound...and this time it's the fuel indicator....looks like we're running low. Just a little history about this particular little ping--it is especially annoying because it only does it ONE TIME and is obviously passive aggressive because there's still a ton of gas left in the tank. What peeves me off about this gesture is that it begs to be ignored and then just lays in wait, like a hunting shark, as the tank slowly drains down to empty. Where's my ping now, eh? Where's the warning signal that says, 'hey, you just used up the very last fume in the gas line and now you're going to be stranded at the side of the road in the middle of a massive rain storm.' Where's that ping, huh? This is the one I actually need!
Pings rule my life. Nope, that's not an understatement--I'm sure it's the same for you too. Do you have all your devices working across one platform? Since I have all Apple products when my phone rings so does my computer and my iPad. It's an atrocious cacophony of sounds...and the one on the computer is kinda dumb because it continues to ring long after the call has been answered on my phone. Also, it's late to the party as it only starts ringing after the phone has gone off a number of times. It's kind of like the last person to get the joke--finally the lights go on and there's the 'ah ha' moment, the joke is understood, or in the case of the computer, the call is received. Like that person who's the last to get the joke, and usually laughs the hardest and the longest, the computer remains true to form and out rings and out lasts it's competition. It like to call it the Energizer Bunny. The other day I was in another room speaking to a client and could't concentrate because the computer Just. Wouldn't. Stop. After several unsuccessful attempts to concentrate on my client's concerns, I had to excuse myself from the call and go 'decline' the computer call so that it would shut the heck up! Not such a smart product.
One thing I'm grateful for however is that I have not succumbed to technology servitude as of yet. This is a reference to a loss of personal freedom and independence because of uncontrolled consumption of many kinds of devices that eat up time and money. The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that 44 percent of cellphone owners had slept with their phone next to their bed. Worse, 67 percent had experienced “phantom rings,” checking their phone even when it was not ringing or vibrating. Have you ever done this? I've even heard of people 'sleep texting'!
Have we gone too far? Are the pings, buzzes, whistles, beeps controlling our lives? Are we becoming like Pavlov's dogs where they would begin to salivate at the sound of a bell? Are we stressing out at the sound of a buzz? Causing neutrons to fire at the sound of a tweet or a whistle? An incoming text on my phone is the tweet of a bird...now when out for a walk and I hear a bird I automatically reach for my phone. I'm a Pavlovian dog. Hopefully I'm a golden retriever with long gorgeous locks. But I digress....
What's your take on all these sounds? Do you feel they enhance your life? There is a lot of information out there about the benefits and harmful effects of technology and wireless devices. For some people, texts, emails, tweets etc is a preferred form of communication, as it is for me. I am over 50% deaf and so verbal communication is a challenge for me...often in conversation of more than three people I miss key elements of a conversation especially if it's especially noisy around me or if I am at the end of a table, a line or on the wrong side of a group. Because I don't want to appear as if I'm controlling a conversation, or don't want to bring attention to my disability, I am hesitant to ask someone to repeat or ask for clarification and so that is why texting, emailing, imessaging etc is a godsend for me. Many of my clients also prefer that our communication is via written form because then they have a record to refer back to when needed.
So, although the pings, buzzes and whistles in my life are abundant and unique...and sometimes cause me to salivate like a dog....I wouldn't give them up. Technology has opened up my world and I'm grateful for it. And maybe, just maybe, I'll have the long beautiful hair of the golden retriever that I envision myself to be....