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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beeps, rings and dings


The other day it occurred to me how often I hear an alarm, a buzz, a ding or a ring.  I must have been irritated already, because I started noticing every single sort of beep or alert that happened.  I started taking an OCD-like inventory of how many times it happens in a day.

I start a typical day with an alarm waking me up.  Depending on how tired I am, I may snooze it so it re-‘alarms’ me.  Shortly after I’m awake is usually a calendar reminder of an appointment or meeting I have that’s coming up.  Several beeps go off when the coffee is done.  More go off if I make toast in a toaster oven.  Get in my car, begin driving when a ‘ding’ alerts me to buckle-up.   Luckily my car isn’t as new or fancy as others and doesn’t have a sensor that triggers an alarm that sounds as I’m backing up.  Another ‘ding’ comes as a low-fuel notification.  OK, time to stop for gas.  Ever notice how many ‘beeps’ there are when you fill up at a pump?  From my experience Chevron is the absolute worst.  Not sure what all of the beeps mean, but what I am sure of is that there are at least three of them throughout the fill-up.  I leave my keys in the ignition but the engine is turned off, so when I open my car to get back in I’m alerted of the key-in-ignition-situation.  Thanks for that.  Park the car, walk up to my office building door, ‘beep’ goes the ID badge swipe, ‘ding’ goes the elevator (two, sometimes three times).

Before I’ve even sat down at my desk I’ve lost count of the different alerts and associated noises.  And have forgotten I’m even counting.

We’ve gotten so good at tuning things out.  News flash tickers at the bottom of screens are normal now.  Throughout the day we get e-mail alerts (business + personal), text messages and appointment reminders.  When someone mentions me on ‘Twitter’ I get an alert from the iPhone application, an e-mail from Twitter to my personal account and sometimes it will pop-up on my computer screen if I have Tweet Deck running in the background.  (OK, so that one is entirely my fault, I’ve just been too lazy to change the settings.) 

Reminders and alerts are everywhere and all the time.  Without them, I’d be screwed and forget a good chunk of my to-do’s.  But often times I find myself needing a break from the constant ‘in-your-face’ness of them.  Isn’t it always a semi-relief when your phone dies?  C’mon, admit it.

I’ll never forget a coworker of mine at my former employer asking me to remind him to remind our manager of something.  That meant I had to write a reminder for myself to set an alarm so that I could remember to remind my coworker to remind my boss.  Lost?  So was I.

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