Tone it down

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 March, 2012, 12:00am


You're in a morning meeting trying to focus, your brain still abuzz from too much fun at Happy Valley the previous night. Suddenly, you hear a wolf whistle and you buck to attention. The conversation drones on, but you're more interested in trying to work out where the sound came from. A colleague a few seats down the table starts tapping on his mobile phone and the answer becomes clear: it was a text message tone.

It's very cool to have a wolf whistle announce an incoming SMS, so different from the usual blip or bleep. Any message, no matter how ordinary the contents, is instantly sexed up by such an introduction.

So while the others swagger on about goals, synergy, adding value and developing killer apps, all you can think about is getting a wolf-whistle phone tone of your own. You're suddenly more attuned to what everyone else has, keenly awaiting the next message to land. They drop scatter-gun: a television news theme here, a bird call there, a playful giggle on the other side of the table.

Does this sound familiar? I'm sure productivity across Hong Kong is being affected by distinctive SMS tones. Each message that arrives with unusual fanfare distracts and disrupts, taking minds off important tasks. As a result, offices are less efficient, ideas are not as creative and innovation is not as it should be.

In the name of our city's competitiveness, there should be a universal rule: during meetings, mobile phones should be put on silent. And let me go a boring step further by suggesting that every SMS tone should remain on the factory standard, no-nonsense, no-chance-of-anyone-getting-jealous-and-wanting-one-too, single bling.