Do you suffer from ringxiety or fauxcellarm?

You probably do and didn’t realize it had a name till now. The terms are used to describe phantom cell phone rings and it’s becoming an increasingly common problem in our over wired society.

If your cell phone is set to ring instead of produce the tinny equivalent of some annoying song you probably have tried to answer it when no one is calling. You would swear that what you hear was a ring but what you heard was a psycho acoustic phenomenon.

When the creator designed our ears he gave us extra sensitivity in the area of 1,000 to 6,000 cycles per second. This is the sound range of a babies cry. It also happens to be the range of most cell phone rings. So if a piece of music or the noise of an electric razor of hairdryer produces a tone in that range, your brain is conditioned to think the phone is ringing.

The problem is that Madison Avenue, although they won’t admit it, knows all about this and is using it to control your behavior. They are inserting these little sounds in commercials to focus your attention. Like at the end of a commercial asking you to call this toll free number now. What better way to emphasize the point than getting you to run and check your cell phone.

The other neat trick that the ad makers have discovered lies in the fact that while our hearing is very adept at distinguishing the direction most sounds come from, in the range around 1000 cycles per second, the same range as those phone rings, we can’t tell where it’s coming from very easily. So we look for the source in every direction and usually in the area of our ubiquitous cell phone ball and chain.

So of course this got me to thinking about other possible, more nefarious uses for ringxiety. All we need to do is develop a small device that produces an audible tone in the proper sound range. It should be battery powered, easily concealed, cheap and most importantly able to be triggered from your keychain.

Important but boring meeting? Drop the cell ring emulator in the trash can on your way in. When the longwinded boss gets revved up to talk for half an hour non stop just push the button and watch the fun as everyone tries to check their cell phone without being obvious.

On a phone call on a regular phone that is going on too long? Hold the cell ring emulator up to the mouthpiece and let er rip. You’ll probably get the person on the other end to let you go, using the excuse, sorry my cell is ringing.

In a long line in a crowded store. Amuse yourself by getting shoppers with arms full of merchandise try to answer the non existent ringing.

So if you’re hearing your cell phone ring but no one’s there, take a look around for the guy with the smirk on his face.

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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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