iPhones have the option of selecting a specific text tone for each contact. Android users? Did you know this? You can’t do that. Given that a lot of people communicate more over text than speaking, you’d think this would be more widespread. I asked a Google Pixel rep when they’d be doing that, I mean, they basically invented Androids, so dudes, what the fuck? Apart from the ridiculously numerous places you have to search for every goddamn setting in Android, having no contact-specific alert tones was the thing that annoyed me most in my Android foray. There are things that can be said about Apple, but unless they implode, I’ll be buying their stupidly expensive devices for the rest of my life, based almost entirely on this texting thing.
I was hanging out with a friend the other day and he was getting texts from his girlfriend. The alert tone was sort of longish for my taste for a text, especially if you’re going to be getting a lot of them in a row, but that’s just me. I do have some long alert tones, but if I’m going to be text-conversing, I usually just put the phone on vibrate anyhow. I text this friend a fair amount and I asked if I had a specific tone on his device. To my unspeakable horror, I apparently do not. To make it worse, this person then started searching through the standard alert tones for a tone for me! This friend of almost 30 years! What a dick.
So, I told him about how I’d found out how to create ringtones from sound files for iPhones. It’s easy once you get the hang of it, but there are a few steps. We’d just been to see Ministry so I wanted to sample one of theirs for my alert but this wasn’t what he was thinking would work for him, and it’s his phone, so it needs to make sense for him. I know he likes Ministry and is not normally in agreement with the music I listen to, so I thought he’d prefer one of their tunes, but no. I asked him what came to mind and he said Lyle Lovett or Elvis. I get it, but not even Van Halen? Really? It’s not all Jump, dude.
I’ve been on his end of the conversation, too. I once chose a tone for a girlfriend of mine, not really because it was music I associated with her but because it had this freeness about it that reminded me of what she was aiming for. She hated the song I chose. I picked something sci-fi for her, as she was also self-directing toward nerdiness, but it was a reflection of the fact that how we see ourselves is not necessarily how others see us. The Elvis and Lyle Lovett choices of my friend are a reflection of what I listened to most when we were closer so that’s what he associates with me. Although how he went right past Van Halen given the rabbit hole I lived in for a couple of years is beyond me.
My mind went to a study I read that indicated that how others see us is more accurate than how we see ourselves. Basically, if ten friends evaluate you based on the questionnaire in the study, they will overlap on about 80% of the checkboxes, but you will only overlap with them on about 40%. I’m of the opinion that this is more about how we behave with other people than about who we actually are. Most of us are at least marginally different people depending on the circumstance. I have no idea what the overlap evaluation of me would be if the respondents were my mother, a work colleague, my bartender, my physiotherapist, my neighbour, my volunteer coordinator, and the guy I’m sleeping with. I’m pretty sure it would be closer to the 40% than the 80%.
I try to set alerts based not only on how I see the person but about how they might feel if they heard the tone themselves (I no longer have Star Wars Imperial March as my mother’s ringtone, for example). It’s not about me, it’s about how he sees me in terms of when I reach out to him.
Repeating that mantra helps in a lot of daily personal interactions: It’s not about me. People are sometimes rude or too busy or just not paying attention but it’s about them, not about you/me. Let them have the little things, put your foot down only when you cannot bring yourself to go further. At the end of the day, maybe the choice of alert tone is not the hill to die on. He can see me however he likes, it doesn’t say anything about me, really. And it’s a little awesome he chose Elvis because I’m fairly certain he would never choose to listen to Elvis given a choice, so to adopt it for me is actually fairly touching. And besides, Elvis is God, so whatever.