Saturday, July 26, 2008


My alarm clock has a nine-minute snooze button. I'd like it a lot more if it had a 10-minute button, not so much because I want the extra minute, but because nobody wants to have to do arithmetic in the morning. If I had a 10-minute snooze button and I set the alarm for 8:00 a.m., I'd know that the next time I hit it, it will be 8:10, then 8:20, then 8:30, and so on until I finally decide to get out of bed around 10:00 or so. But with a nine-minute snooze button, I have to do some early-morning calculations. The first one isn't so hard. 8:09. Okay. But then the next one will be 8:18, then 8:27, then 8:36., and to me these just seem like strange times to be getting out of bed. The math isn't difficult, but it's not as easy as just adding 10. And to make matters even worse, the hour after that is completely different -- the alarm goes off at 9:03, then 9:12, then 9:21, and then 9:30.

I wouldn't mind having an alarm clock with a 12-minute snooze button. A little bit of arithmetic is involved, but no matter how many times you hit the button, you'll know that it's always going to be on the hour, or 12 minutes past the hour, or 24 minutes, or 36, or 48, regardless of the hour. So you can keep hitting the button hour after hour and you'll always have a pretty good sense of what time it is.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that I happened to see an ad for an alarm clock with a four-minute snooze button. Yes, you read that right. Four minutes. A whopping 240 seconds. What's the point of that? Why would anyone want an alarm clock that's going to annoy them every four minutes? It's insane. You might as well get up when the alarm rings the first time, just so you won't have to hear it every four minutes. Or you could do what I'd probably do: just turn the alarm off and get out of bed when you feel like it.

The thing is, I have a feeling that a four-minute snooze button is exactly what some people want. It seems like the world is getting increasingly fast-paced and competitive, and no one has a minute to lose. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years, someone makes an alarm clock with a two-minute snooze button. And a few years after that, the snooze button might disappear completely, to be replaced by an alarm clock that pinches you and pushes you and taunts you until you get out of bed.

Or more likely, the alarm clock as we know it may become obsolete. Instead we'll have some sort of subcutaneous implant that will jolt us with tiny bursts of electricity when it's time to get up. It can be implanted when we're babies, at the same time they implant the miniature cell phones, media players, ID tags, and medical and financial record storage areas under our skin. I know, it sounds like science fiction, but at some point it'll just be science. And it probably won't happen that far in the future. So sleep while you can, and use that snooze button as much as you can while you've still got one.