Street poster: an alarm that rings if you pull out a smartphone

Street poster: an alarm that rings if you pull out a smartphone

This street poster cropped up in Williamsburg in October 2021. It advertises a spanking new, rather unnerving, technology:


Warning! Smartphone Alarm Area!

Make sure not to take out your smartphone from your pocket because this will activate a special smartphone alarm that rings as soon as a smartphone appears in public.

Avoid the discomfort!

Synagogue staffers and community activists who want to install the system in synagogues or public places or to take part in this effort, please call.

I called the number (I thought I might get in on this new technology early) and all I got was a standard voice mail message box. Leave a message, beep.

If I were to be so bold as to guess how this state-of-the-art technology works, I’d guess the main contraption operates on the basic systems of fear-mongering and peer pressure. Recent years have illustrated how well these two systems work. Scare people into social embarrassment, and voila, you’ve installed a system. Yes, I’m calling their bluff. I’m always impressed by how intuitively the community’s fanatics understand human psychology and our desires for social approval. No doubt systems like these have been enormously effective, and all it costs is the price of printing an oversized page.

Then again, the contemporary Hasidic public is not so naive either, and I’m sure not few would dare the alarm to actually ring.

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