Archive | September, 2012

THE BEEP

12 Sep

 

Huddled in the corner of the room, a man rocks back and forth. His hands cupped over his ears.
He looks as if he hasn’t slept in days. Eyes hollow, lost.
He mumbles the same words over and over again with monotone repetition, “Stop the beep, stop the beep, stop the beep’

 

This is how I see myself after ‘the beep’ has eventually broken my last nerve.

Without realizing it, ‘the beep’ has stealthily crept into society and firmly asserted its influence and unrelenting authority.

Even though many machines have always beeped, I never realised how ‘the beep’ has transformed from a simple reminder or warning sound to an electronic dictator.

The ‘beep’ controls our lives.

Although it was originally designed to help us, now it can break the strongest nerve and potentially end relationships, while never feeling any remorse or pity.

Worst of all we have become dependent on it.

I came to this conclusion after a recent experience while driving.

As I pulled out of the driveway, the ‘seatbelt beep’ started. Without fail, every time the seatbelt beep starts, it aggravates me to the point where I will remain defiant and test my resolve against it by not putting my belt on. The cunning ‘seatbelt beep’ has evolved since the first prototype. After 20 seconds it now increases in pitch and tempo in order to break your spirit. When a new car or machine is developed there is an even higher level of annoyance that comes along with it.

After about a minute, my frustrated girlfriend turns to me and says,

‘If you don’t shut that beep up I am getting out.

I don’t understand why you just don’t put your belt on.

Every time we get in the car this happens’.

My standard response is,

‘We’re only going five minutes down the road, just ignore it.’

I am usually met with a defeated look.

With great reluctance, I always put my seatbelt on. Not to prevent myself from flying through the windshield if I have an accident, but for the sake of my relationship. I am well aware that it would only take five seconds to put my seatbelt on, but I am unwilling to let a machine have more influence over me than a human being. If there was a person sitting there telling me to put my belt on with constant monotony, I would tell them to, ‘get out of the car’!

But some days I am fragile and when the ‘seatbelt beep’ starts my reaction is one of a broken man

 ‘Oh, for fucks sake’

And I put my seatbelt on.

This brings me to the microwave beep. Even though the seatbelt beep tests my nerve the microwave beep is in its own league.

Hearing ‘the beep’ I know that the food is cooked but, as is often the case, I am involved in something that needs my immediate attention. Like the time when I was about to witness Usain Bolt run the Men’s 100m final. A chance at creating Olympic history by winning 2 Olympic 100m Finals, in succession. As all the runners performed their pre-race rituals,

I was distracted by another ‘beep’.

Yes I bloody know you are finished!

I tried to refocus on the race.

Then, another beep.

From the other room my flatmate angrily cried out.

‘Take the bloody food out of the microwave I am trying to watch the race in peace’.

I ran to the microwave and back again but the moment was gone. I could only sit and watch as Usain Bolt celebrated his victory. I was forced to watch this historic event via replay. The irony that I had missed the 100m Olympic final because I was too slow getting to microwave and back isn’t lost on me.

The beep has no discretion, no feeling and no sense of timing. It does not possess human qualities and this is its secret to getting what it wants. We know deep down that you can’t beat the beep. You either adhere to its electronic chirp or suffer the repercussions, whether that be emotionally or physically.  The machine will never be blamed for beeping. It won’t be held responsible for its annoying actions. Instead we direct our frustration to the closest human being. We will do as the beep commands and blame each other for it.

Some other notable beeps that often break my nerves and illicit an outburst;

1: The shopping on the passenger seat. The bloody car will think someone is sitting on the seat and will keep beeping. After screaming at the beep that ‘no one is sitting there,’ I always reluctantly adhere to its demands and put the shopping on the ground. Or, more ridiculously put the seat belt around my shopping.

2: The Fridge: The fridge will beep if I take too long to decide what I want to eat or drink. The fridge door isn’t glass so I can’t pre-determine what I will eat, I need time to decide. But once again the incessant beep will start, I will tell it to ‘fuck off’ and we start our cyclical ritual all over again.

I guarantee that anyone reading this rant will have their own beep story or a disagreement that has occurred due to beep related activities.

We are so heavily reliant on the beep that I don’t think we can rid ourselves of it. Headlights would be left on, people would be running out of petrol, we wouldn’t be able to reverse park without hitting cars, no one would get out of bed in the morning, trucks would be reversing over innocent bystanders, forklifts crushing people, thieves walking through silent security gates, terrorists walking onto planes without a beep……..

But are we in danger of ignoring its cries?

Recently a man was run over on a construction site because he failed to recognize the beep of a reversing truck. After many of the workers were interviewed they stated that every machine on- site beeped and if you reacted every time you heard a beep no work would ever get done. Maybe in a world with ‘no beep’ and personal accountability the man may have developed better spatial awareness and realized a massive truck was reversing instead of waiting for a beep to remind him of the inherent danger.

This may be an extreme example but I think the emergence of beeps and warning devices is further evidence that as human beings we are taking less responsibility for our actions. We are developing machines to replace our conscious minds and enabling them to have a greater influence on our lives than our fellow human beings.

What next – machines policing our society?

Oh wait, fixed speed cameras, red lights cameras…..

Rant on,

Johnny