Which romantic caller melody should I prefer?

Cell phone ringtones have become personal business cards. The tone becomes a matter of character. What it really says about the owners is anything but individual

BY VERENA DAUERER

It hugs your ear completely and privately. And no one else can see what message was sent, even if the display is huge. The cell phone is intimate. Nobody has to endure the colorful cover or the logo that smiles when someone wants to call, except for the person themselves. But the tones that can be taught to the mobile phone are quite different: they ring for everyone in the vicinity.

Purists take the old-school sound of telephones from the 70s and 80s, these either green or rust-red, square-shaped plastic monsters, and let the advanced communication technology wrestle as realistically as possible. This makes you feel safe and fashionable on the retro track, apparently tasteless.

Nature-loving people like it more idyllic and choose a tone that is vaguely reminiscent of the chirping of birds. Once up and down again. As has become known from studies, birds now imitate the ring tones themselves: the system is self-referential.

At least the ecological twittering isn't as annoying as the alarm siren some get their SMS with. A monotonously high-pitched bag that resembles the SOS emergency call signal shakes up randomly unorganized people who might forget an appointment.

Thank goodness there are still no police sirens: For people with a high risk of heart attacks they would be just as stressful as for department store thieves and politically radical demonstrators. In any case, rings, chirps and sirens all show that the owner of this device was not seriously concerned with the actual development of the technology.

Because there are alternatives to the tones that the cell phone offers as standard. Social classes with a high level of general education like to resort to classical music. You take a piece of Toccata by Bach or “Für Elise” by Beethoven. This proves a certain basic knowledge of the operation of the device, but at the same time reveals an extremely conservative taste in music.

People who believe of themselves that they are trending, or would like to be half as old as they really are, therefore prefer titles from the current charts. Much better. Although you often don't recognize the hit because you only hear the beginning of a piece by Lumidee or Beyoncé, for example. The bass is missing and more than a thin, overturned beeping sound doesn't come from the small loudspeaker.

Basically, the problem with individual ringtones is that the personal selection of a hit cannot be personal at all. Otherwise it wouldn't be a hit. The same goes for the classics. People who choose a supposedly personal hit, it can happen that they instinctively pick up their cell phone in the subway compartment, open-plan office or café, even though the neighbor's doorbell rings. The reflex proves that they are competent members of the communication society. Still, he's embarrassed. Not because of the apparently widespread ringtone, which speaks for a taste that is not particularly original, but at least safe. Rather, reaching for the silent cell phone is embarrassing because it shows the expectation that everyone will be called at any time. The message is only: "You are not asked now."

When scenes like this pile up, it's time to find another ringtone. If it is supposed to be a sign of your own personality, the collection that comes with the cell phones from the factory is out of the question. It only contains standards of the kind that blare as background noise in department stores.

All network operators offer a replacement that can be imported with a phone call - a thorough study of the operating instructions usually leads to success. The offer of the web portal “Jamba” is more extensive, but not free of charge. In addition to the charts, you can also find oldies from every category there. But unfortunately they are still not a solution to the problem. Not only do they remind you, but also those around you, that those good times are long gone.

“I am I” and nothing fits. What to do? Modern cell phones solve the problem with their function for storing spoken language. It is actually intended as an electronic notebook, but also allows you to record radically individual ring tones. People who can sing or play an instrument have a clear advantage. In the end, it only comes down to the question of personal courage to create a truly distinctive business card. Whether it's free jazz or the bathroom opera, success is certain in any case: it only rings for you, whether the others like it or not.

This suggests a strong ego, although not necessarily good taste. Romantically inclined people might get the idea to let their loved ones speak a few words. Even if they think of the subway and the office, not the bedroom.