Ringtones: From an Identifier to Public Pollution

The cell phone rings. Everyone checks their pockets. Why? Because everyone’s got the same default ringtone. The iPhone’s version is called “Opening.”

Ringtones used to be an identifier. It revealed your latest musical tastes. I once cut my own Dilla ringtone, a track called “Mashed.” People around me used to nod their heads and sing along. It was a social experience.

But ringtones lost their way as phones became more ubiquitous. We became desensitized to the diversity of sound and opted for something that sounded the same instead.

The cell phone rings so often today at home and in public we hear it to the point of deafness. The immediate reaction is to check our pockets or are purses for the 125th time of the day to see if it’s our phone that’s the lucky ticket.

The ringtone died because it sounded intrusive, archaic, and unnecessary. But today’s standard ring is like the yawn, boring but contagious.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.