Musical ring tones not height of individuality


We’ve all been there: Class is going on uneventfully when a cell phone rings – because evidently no one can bother to turn it off or at least reduce the ring to a deafening vibration setting. It leads me to think that we’re not so much college students as we are forgetful six-year-olds who can’t remember to turn phones off for 50 minutes.

But the situation reaches an alarming level of annoyance when it turns out that the cell phone in question is playing a tinny version of, at best, a talented artist singing banal lyrics, and at worst, Kevin Federline’s attempt at music.

I always wonder at these times why anyone would bother paying for what amounts to, at best, a mediocre song whose only purpose is to alert you to a call. I’m not some technologically stunted person, scoffing at any unneeded communication gizmo – there’s rarely a time when my Samsung isn’t stuffed haphazardly in my pocket, and I covet a BlackBerry to a nearly frightening extent. I love music as well; I’m not some crazy freak.

But I find myself wondering why anyone would pay for short ring tones when phones already come with quite a few, and when anyone who is so concerned with the appearance of their phone will just change the song every two weeks at the risk of not sounding up-to-date with their music choice.

Most people with songs as their cell phone ring tone say proudly that their devices are individualized; these users have become convinced that their ring tone makes them special. If you actually have a real reason to seek out and pay for a musical ring tone, all the more power to you. But when you’re using music on your phone to determine your personality, self-worth or “individuality,” you’re too far gone for help. I have to wonder what kind of pathetic state of low self-esteem one would have to sink to in order to convince themselves that their cell phone ring tone is a defining feature of their innermost self. I ponder why the person next to me is so eager to let me and everyone else in the vicinity know that their ring tone of choice is “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” I don’t even want to know the background behind that telling choice.

However, if you think having any song on your phone individualizes you in general, take a look around – everyone else has the same cracked-out version of a top-40 song as you do. And the fact that any of us even pay for these songs is insane – paying to be like everyone else is a brand-new low for anyone.

Has anyone stopped to think that maybe – just maybe – not having a new song on their phone every three days is a better way to express one’s individuality? Sure, it’s a bit like being the only Hollywood starlet whose Sidekick isn’t adorned with Swavorski crystals, but in the end being one-of-a-kind doesn’t come down to what Kelly Clarkson song your cell phone blares – it should be about expressing your own thoughts, being your own person and looking past the superficial.

Life is far too short to waste it on constantly downloading rings that will be heard for all of three seconds at a time – but let’s face it, if that’s something your life and individuality centers on, then you really haven’t been living at all.

Do you agree with Lauren Robeson, or think that your musical ring tone defines you completely? Reach her at