Warning sounds have their place. They tell us when something is wrong or when danger is imminent.
They serve a valuable purpose, especially when it comes to children, or people navigating the world with a disability. It’s not hard to see why traffic lights pip to tell you when it’s safe to cross, or why, as annoyingly ubiquitous as they sometimes are, trucks and buses go ‘wah wah wah’ when reversing.
I can even understand why lifts announce what floor you’re on and tell you whether you’re going up or down. But there are plenty of alarming alarms in our modern lives that would be hard to class as ‘essential’. The number of bells and whistles, chimes, buzzes and some surprisingly elaborate musical arpeggios sounding off these days has reached a deafening, discordant crescendo.
It’s as if our every waking moment is now soundtracked by sirens. Have we reached peak beep? It’s been a long time since car horns were used as intended – to warn of collision, not as casual expletives, and cars themselves have become the ultimate helicopter parents. My car is so worried about me, and it doesn’t trust me. From unlocking (peep!) to ignition (brrrp!), it lights up and sounds off with a dozen ‘careful now’s: “Don’t forget you’re low on wiper fluid. Your tyre pressure needs checking. And it looks like you’re three minutes overdue for a service.”
I’m feeling seriously hassled before I even get out of the driveway, but my car is just warming up…
“Woah!” it shouts. “DID YOU JUST PUT ME IN REVERSE?”
Yes I did, car. I need to go backwards. Do we have to have this conversation every time? Still in the
driveway, if I take my foot off the brake before belting up, all hell breaks loose. “YOU ARE NOT GOING
ANYWHERE DRESSED LIKE THAT YOUNG LADY. YOU ARE PRACTICALLY NAKED!”
I’m basically grounded. And like our parents and partners, those mechanical beeps sometimes
have a tone, don’t they? That happy tune from the microwave says “Yummy, yummy, your food is read-dy.” (Subtext: I’ve gone to a lot of trouble and I’m going to watch you eat it.)
It’s even more disturbing when the machines actually talk. Is it just my GPS that sounds passive aggressive when I take a wrong turn? If it was an emoji it would be an eyeroll or a facepalm. I’m sure I once heard it say: ‘Recalculating… dumbass.’
And Siri can be witheringly cold. If you don’t think so, try using the same tone on your partner next time they ask you to do something. [Speaks in monotone] “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.” I recently found out when my car doesn’t beep – when I’m low on fuel. I ran totally dry in the airport drop-off zone, where you can’t park for more than two minutes let alone leave your car to walk 2km to the nearest petrol
station with a jerry can. Oh how I beeped back at it then: “You beeping heap of over-engineered junk!
Of all the beeping things you’ve beeping warned me about…?!”
Do you have a device making enough noises to drive you up the beeping wall? Please share it below