You get your first mobile, a hefty block with solid buttons. It quickly earns its place in your left front pocket, with your door keys and spare change. You carefully and proudly put your friends’ numbers into it. When it rings you jump, and immediately answer.
You can’t imagine not having it. A mobile phone rings, and (you and) everyone present looks closely at their handsets to see if the call is for them because everyone has a mobile. You all have the same ringtone: Nokia’s Grand Valse, which will be later renamed Nokia Tune. When a call comes in, it somehow takes priority over your face-to-face conversation, and the incoming double double-beep of a text message even more so.
You only check your handset when you hear your ringtone. You feel a mild irritation when someone else has the same one. Novelty and TV theme tune ringtones are now so popular that one differential strategy is to go back to very old-school tones: Nokia Tune, or the one that sounds like an old phone. When you travel alone, without someone to talk to or a paper to read, you reach for your mobile to stay busy. You play a game repeatedly, occasionally glancing up to see if it’s your stop yet, hating the game, but still hitting New Game every time.
Your address book is full, one-in-one-out, so you judge new contacts against the old. You get up from the table in the pub to go to the gents, and your date pulls out her mobile at once and begins texting: you feel nervous at her near-real-time commentary on the quality of your table-talk. You don’t want to feel left out back at the table, so when you return you have your mobile in hand.
You switch your mobile to vibrate only, relying on a haptic response. It’s polite. When you feel the tingle, in a half-second you’re starting to grab your pocket to make sure that it really is a call, then taking the handset out to see who’s inbound. You’ve stopped taking any calls that aren’t recognised by the address book, letting them be fielded by voicemail.
Your leg twitches nervously, as if your mobile’s silent alert is vibrating against it. You clap your hands over the pocket to check, but the mobile is still. Or it’s not even in your pocket. At last, your body has learned the correct response. Neurones are firing in the over-trained fast-twitch mobile fibres your thigh has grown. You have a hair-trigger response, a text dependency. The minutes and data must flow.