Back in the day, mobile phones had one ringtone: they beeped.
You could change the volume, and on fancier models, the pitch. Back then, if a mobile phone rang, everyone got their phones out thinking it was theirs ringing.
Then along came ringtones. You could get your favourite song, albeit a beep beep version, to distinguish your phone from everyone else’s.
Then along came polyphonic ringtones. Not only could you get a ringtone that was different, you could almost dance to it (“Freestyler” was very popular).
Everyone was an individual, and for a time it was good.
The next big thing was “real tones” and mp3 tones. These were actual digitally sampled sound bytes from your favourite song or noise. There was no looking back now. Not only could you get your favourite song from your favourite singing frog, but you could get a barking dog, an ambulance, a v8 engine, a screaming orgasm or anything you could possibly think of.
Freedom of choice was here to stay. Or was it?
Suddenly, just like the day you went to school and everyone somehow knew that Yo-Yos were the new Rubik’s Cube, everything changed. Suddenly, the only acceptable ringtone on a mobile is the ringing bell of an old fashioned telephone. Anything else is a social faux par.
Now, once again, if you hear a ring, everyone gets out their phones, thinking it is their own mobile ringing.
The great circle of life continues.
(note: US readers should substitute the word “mobile” with “cell”)