The Happy Piper And The Colossal Thud

Our modern world of devices and gizmos specializes in sounds as well as visuals and electronic advances.  The acoustic element might be overwhelmed by all of the technological wizardry, but it’s just as crucial to the whole experience — and in my view, pretty intriguing, too.

s-l300I’m not sure who picks the sounds, or what process they follow, but it’s got to be a pretty interesting job.  For example, the remote log-in process for our firm’s computer system requires you to follow several password steps and work through multiple stages of security.  If you successfully navigate all of the safeguards, you get a little audio cue that tells you you’re in.  It’s a rising three-note piping sound that makes you think that Pan is gleeful, perhaps even prancing, about your success in obtaining access.  On the other hand, if you’ve made a false move or mistyped a letter or number in a password, you get the sound of a colossal thud, as if a pallet of bricks has crushed a roomful of outdated electronic equipment and old Blockbuster videos.  It’s the quintessential sound of failure.

Wouldn’t you like to know what other sounds were considered for these purposes?  How many thousands of snippets of sound were evaluated and tested on focus groups before the final sounds were determined?  It’s hard to argue with the happy piper, but I wonder whether the initial notes of Trumpets Voluntary, or the first few chords of Ticket to Ride, were among the finalists?  And while the colossal thud conveys, quite effectively, that you’ve flopped, how about a descending two-note foghorn sound, or the crash of breaking china?

And don’t get me started on ringtones.

For Equal Treatment Of Failure And Success

Two weeks ago I was getting my hair cut by the Recently Blonde Stylist when she inadvertently let slip that she’d received a nice recognition at work.  I congratulated her, and she immediately pooh-poohed her accomplishment.

How many humble people do that, reflexively?  They take their defeats forever to heart but shortchange their successes and rarely talk about them.  They see failures as the direct result of personal shortcomings but treat victories as the inevitable product of luck and circumstance.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to view that approach as pernicious, and the road to unhappiness.  No one wins every battle.  If you carry around every failure and focus only on them, after a few decades of work you’ll be weighted down by a depressing number of mistakes and missteps.  It’s important to leaven those learning experiences with some pride in your achievements, too.  I told the RBS that she should be pleased with her honor, rather than discounting it, and feel satisfaction that she was so good at her job.

I’m not advocating for a world of preening braggarts; we all know them and they are a tiresome lot.  Instead, I’m in favor of a balanced internal approach in which equal treatment is given to positives and negatives.  Learn from your mistakes but recognize that they happen to us all; allow yourself to feel pleasure when you helped a friend or did a good deed or had a successful result in your job.  Life is full of peaks and valleys, and one is not more important than the other.