Halfway between meme and gene is the ringtone, an informational packet passed from person to person, and replicating more often based on their social success. It undergoes selection, just like everything else with a replication system, but China has forced it to mutate in aggressive and destructive ways.
In mere megalopolises, the ringtone is selected for uniqueness so that the owner knows it’s their phone. But in Chinese cities the sheer density of mobile phones per square meter has passed the critical concentration where any sound you could imagine is sure to be used by someone else as well, and the only reliable identifier is volume. Sheer bone-shattering volume.
If you’re on a bus being deafened by polyphonics, well, that just means that there’s phone service in the area. That could be anyone’s. It’s only when you notice your own ossicles bouncing out of your ear canal that you can be sure it’s your own phone. The concept of avoiding disruption of other passengers simply doesn’t exist. Possibly because being bothered into not doing things by the presence of other people would cause a population of this size to crash and freeze entirely.
You could set off a golabl tidal wave by hacking the cell towers to ring every phone at once, without the hassle of organizing everyone jumping at once. In fact, jumping would be unnecessary, as the resonance of every possible ringtone sounding simultaneously at maximum volume would project the population into the air, where they’d float like electro-hovercraft over the disintegrating wail of badly digitized pop and movie samples.
This synchro-sounding would drive the tidal waves even faster, washing away every other nation on Earth, while resetting China to pre-industrial times as everything electronic is overloaded and destroyed. It could well be a last-ditch antipocalypse intended as a final fall-back position, to keep humanity going at the base level when we’re on the verge of utterly wrecking the ecosphere.
At least, I think that’s why everyone has their phones so loud.
More Sino-Gaelic investigations: