Things that go beep in the morning

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 Permalink

I live alone so am probably a lot more accustomed to the ‘quiet’ than those with tantrumy toddlers or rowdy teens.

We often hear about the negatives of living in a world of constant noise and activity and how it adds to our stress levels. Most of us have a smart phone or other device surgically-attached 24/7. We’re constantly contactable and at the behest of a ringing phone, beeping email arrivals or pings to let us know we have a Facebook update. We’re constantly ‘on’ or at least ‘ready’.

It occurred to me yesterday however, that technology’s intrusion into our lives is infiltrated by far more than the usual suspects (ie. mobile phones and internet).

After being beset by a myriad of beeping before 7am, I found myself contemplating the balance between technological advances which help us and make life easier; and those which mean we’re constantly on the go or in a state of highly-charged awareness.

Within a short timeframe yesterday I was ‘beckoned’ by several household appliances. And in the quiet of my apartment, those appliances and their attention-seeking behaviours are even more intrusive.

It started with the bloody fire alarm in the apartment complex. Thankfully we don’t have false alarms TOO regularly but a disembodied voice booming EVACUATE from my ceiling is never a good start to the day (remember my Daleks post!). Knowing burnt toast was most likely the culprit I didn’t even bother heading down to our gathering point, rather I just stuck my head over my verandah to confirm my assumption.

Although it was early (for me) I decided get a jump on the day and got stuck into some chores. (Yay me!)

The microwave was the next offender – beeping at me because the bacon and egg combo was ready. Then the toaster joined in once it ejected my gluten-free bread roll. And just as I’d started attending to the demands of my kitchen appliances a beeping sound came from my laundry signifying my washing was ready to be dealt with.

And then I get in my car and the sensors go crazy because I have to park in a tiny space and my car KNOWS I’m too close to everything around me!

Argh!

I don’t actually mind that my toast is ready or my microwaved food prepared or washing finished. Nor do I mind a reminder of sorts that my fridge door has been left open for too long – and so forth – but once upon a time we didn’t have such reminders and we still managed to survive. Back in the 1970s (or indeed even the 80s) our lives didn’t function at the behest of beeping appliances. Our washing finished without letting us know. We could stand at the refrigerator for minutes without setting off alarms AND our toast either popped up or burnt.

It’s not that I mind the safeguards either. Smoke alarms are lifesavers and the beeping fridge DOES mean we don’t accidentally leave the door open all day – spoiling precious food.

However, at the same time I have to admit the constant sounds and warnings can be intrusive. It means we need to be constantly in a state of awareness and at the ready. We’re constantly ‘on’. Although I have outside traffic and neighbours to deal with, the usual quiet of my apartment means that noises from inside are particularly noticeable.

In all seriousness, being constantly plagued by things wanting our attention (many of which are not urgent!) can add to the stress that most of us are already under. Indeed, despite the fact I’m no longer rushing about in the morning, I find it hard to ignore a beeping appliance and often ‘startle’ a little with every new sound.

However, while we can’t change everything in our environment (my building’s smoke alarms come to mind!) we can control and minimise some of them.

When buying my last microwave oven I stayed away from those which continue to beep if you don’t open the door immediately after the cooking time has lapsed (my previous one did this and I’d be lying in the bath upstairs and every few minutes heard a petulant ‘beeeep beeeeep’ – like a child screaming for attention). I’m due for a new fridge soon and – if possible – I’m going to buy one that doesn’t shout at me if the door’s left open.

For some time now I’ve been very zen about my phones. In my previous apartment I didn’t have a home phone and only answered my mobile phone if I knew who was calling. I didn’t carry it with me all of the time – so often it was on the middle floor when I was on the top floor. #Meh

Even now, my mobile phone barely works in my new apartment and because it’s so crappy I can’t turn off the internet notifications (email, Twitter, Facebook) without also turning off the SMS notifications. As a result my phone is almost permanently on silent and I just remind myself to check it several times a day for any calls or messages.

I love that I’m not at the beck and call of my phone. For a change.

In many of my previous jobs I had to constantly monitor my emails (Ministers’ staff never seem to sleep!).

I must confess (although I’m not working) I’m still pretty anal about monitoring incoming emails, but… less-so about dealing with them nowadays.

My working world is all online so it’s hard to make significant changes there, but I’ve turned off all Twitter and Facebook notifications so – even if online I don’t know if someone’s responded to commented on something I’ve said. And if I’m trying to concentrate on writing, I’ll often turn my internet off completely so I’m not tempted to check my accounts. #Ommmm

#MovingForward As for my plan to continue to live in a more zen-like environment: while there’s not a lot I can do about my existing kitchen appliances and dependence on the virtual world; I can continue to change the obvious – spend more time offline and less at the behest of technology.

#Inothernews I’m thinking of petitioning my building’s body corporate to see if we can re-record the ‘EVACUATE’ recording in more-soothing tones. A calming female voice encouraging us to leave the building sounds about right. “Hello friends, moving in your own time, you may wish to leave the building. Namaste.” 

Any other suggestions?
Do your appliances beep? Do you hate it?

 I’m linking up with Jess and her IBOT team today!

21 Comments
  • Laura @ scribbles and sass
    October 22, 2013

    my last apartment had very sensitive smoke detectors and very thin walls. i think i’d go just batty if it yelled “EVACUATE” each time it went off.

    • Debbish
      October 22, 2013

      Yes, I’ve never been in a building before where EVERYONE was affected by a smoke alarm (other than in an office!). Here an alarm goes off in the apartment and you have a minute to hit a switch to turn it off, but you also need to clear the smoke so it doesn’t go off again. If not the whole building (17 units) get evacuated – supposedly. If it’s the middle of the night I go downstairs but if it’s around mealtimes then it’s usually someone cooking. You can often smell the steak or toast etc… There’s a $2500 cost if the fire brigade are called out erroneously though, so I’m really paranoid about it!

  • Lisa Barton-Collins
    October 22, 2013

    I would be startled by a Dalek ‘evacuate’ too! My fridge beeps although with 2 small boys in the house this is a good thing, and has literally saved our bacon on numerous occasions. I try to keep my phone on silent, otherwise it would drive me nuts. Is there anyway you can turn the volume down so it’s not so obtrusive?
    xx

    • Debbish
      October 22, 2013

      I’m not actually sure about turning it down! I suspect it’s not possible. And yes, when there are multiple people – esp kids in the house – I bet the beeping fridge is a godsend!

  • Char
    October 22, 2013

    I seriously love that my washing machine beeps. It tells the entire household that it needs to be emptied so it’s not just my job any more. And it beeps every couple of minutes so if I’m out sometimes (and I do mean rarely) one of the kids will empty it and hang out the wet things. Those days are what I live for.

    • Debbish
      October 22, 2013

      My mother’s washing machine makes lots of different noises Char. She knows what they mean, “Oh it’s going into its spin cycle,” she’ll say when a little tune plays. And when it’s done it plays a merry little jig. Grrrr….

  • Katy Potaty
    October 22, 2013

    Totally loving your evacuation message, I would pay to upgrade our alarm to that voice!

    • Debbish
      October 22, 2013

      Oh god no Katy! THe combo of the shrieking alarm and deep ‘EVACUATE’ voice… not at all pleasant!

      Deb

  • Alex aka WHOA MUMMA!
    October 22, 2013

    Don’t get me started on beeping! Our pool pump beeps so loud whenever it has an issue that it makes me crazy. It’s because I associate it with hours of frustration of fiddling with the pump. Just like Pavlov’s dogs and their bell. Silly.

    • Debbish
      October 22, 2013

      Hi Alex, oh that’s funny. Or not. You reminded me of my days at Uni (a long time ago). I was anorexic at the time and used to wait until my neighbour opened her dorm room door to go to the bathroom and then I’d go and use her scales (in private and secret!). For the 3 (or so) years I spent at the residential college an opening / creaking door made me feel ill!!! #pavlovianresponse

      Deb

  • Lisa@RandomActsOfZen
    October 22, 2013

    I really hate the sound of our microwaving screaming at me, so try to stop it before it reaches zero! So much noise around when you really think about it, isn’t there?
    I don’t think I would get over the fire alarm that actually speaks to me LOL.

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2013

      I’ve done that before with the microwave – esp if I’m somewhere others are still sleeping and every damned button you push beeps and then it beeps when it’s finished! I stand there trying to work out what combination of settings will involve the least number of beeps!

  • stephanie
    October 22, 2013

    My washing machine has one of those piercing beeps, thankfully it automatically stops after beeping 3 times. Else i would have to do something to it!

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2013

      Yes, mine’s the same thankfully. My mother’s plays a tune – which is kinda strange! (Different tunes mean different things and you have to listen closely to know what it’s trying to tell you. #likeatoddler)

  • Jo Tracey
    October 24, 2013

    The reverse sensor on my car is currently not working, so beeps constantly in reverse. The fridge beeps if the door is open & yes, the microwave…I’m with you on this one!

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2013

      When it rains it screws up my car’s sensors and so I get a constant beep as it thinks I’m too close to something. (Fortunately I can turn that off!)

  • EssentiallyJess
    October 24, 2013

    I found a night setting on my iphone which automatically silences it between 10 and 7, unless it’s from one of my emergency contacts (ie Boatman) or someone tries to call twice in a row. I found thats a great way to bring a bit of peace. My microwave does annoy me occassionally though. I feel like say ‘I’m coming! I’m coming!’

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2013

      I like the idea of silencing my phone – though I tend to have it on silent anyway (hate talking to people on the phone…) but being able to turn it off certain hours is a great idea!

  • Jess
    October 26, 2013

    I hate the washing machine beeping when it is done. It goes on and on and is so annoying. Unless you answer it immediately it cries like it is a newborn baby. I do a lot of washing so it really makes me crazy. I have a similar approach to my phone and hate being tied to it.

    • Debbish
      October 26, 2013

      I know there’s a vague possibility we’d forget the washing in the machine (if it didn’t beep) but it’s hardly urgent. Wonder why someone first decided washing machines needed to beep!?

  • Diane R. Morrow
    October 28, 2013

    The washing machine sings when it’s done, thankfully stopping at just one little tune… but if it’s broken or slightly malfunctioning… well then it lets me know. Oh yes it does. Each little breakdown/malfunction has it’s own little musical ditty.

I'd love to hear your thoughts