Reporting the news since 1914

The Blue & Gold

Reporting the news since 1914

The Blue & Gold

Reporting the news since 1914

The Blue & Gold

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Encomium to Doorbells

Encomium+to+Doorbells

Doorbells. The real ones. You know, the ones from our childhoods. Before they had cameras or speakers that screamed through static. I’m talking about the ones with chipped paint. The ones worn raw from years of use. The ones where your finger fits perfectly in its groove. The ones whose melodious song seems to call out “Hello! I’m here! I’m here for you!”

I used to love doorbells. The mystery of what lies behind them. The anticipation.

Doorbells sound like summer. Not just any summer, but a hot humid summer night. Your hands are caked in dirt and sticky with sweat. These kinds of doorbells and those kinds of nights encouraged ding-dong ditching. They didn’t care if our grubby hands touched them. And so, we did.

I grew to know the slight inflections to my neighbors’ doorbells. The different tunes or rings. Some shrill and some flat. Our favorite was the one-of-a-kind old lady up the street whose doorbell hummed to the tune of Yankee Doodle. It was all music to us.

On Halloween night a doorbell was the access point for us and sweet treats from people with even sweeter smiles. Each house brought mystery. What’s behind that door? Could it be the elusive king-size bar?

Between my brothers and I, it was always a fight of who got to ring that sacred doorbell. The significance of those revered bells was not lost on us, no matter how little we were.

“Don’t open the door to strangers” cautioned mothers everywhere, and while I understand not opening to strangers, I’ll never understand why we stopped opening our doors to strangeness.

Doorbells are a sign of the undiscovered. A person, a package. In school, a bell represents the changing of classes. The beginning of something new. In our monotonous lives, doorbells are our interruptions, our reminder to break free from our molds and open our doors to the unknown.

I think that a love of doorbells is what makes growing up so hard. By the time we were old enough to be the people opening the doors, the bells had stopped ringing, and the world beyond our doors appeared much smaller. No more Christmas carolers. No more booing.

Now, doorbells have cameras and speakers. The mystery of what lies behind our doors has been spoiled. Why would you get up to answer the door when you can just check your phone? The melodious song of “Hello! I’m here! I’m here for you!” has turned into dissonant “What is the purpose of your visit?”

Our craving for personable connection is what makes us human. In the past decades, it seems as if nothing can satisfy it. So we invented apps in hopes that they will improve our lives. Instead of walking outside we simply say “Alexa, what’s the weather like?” Instead of opening our doors, we just check our cameras, and you remember those strangers our mothers warned us about. Well, we befriend them online in hopes that they will fulfill our need for connection. And they don’t. And we never realize that it’s not real. None of it is real.