Go out in to the street and look at your fellow human beings. Any street. See how they walk, and how different it is from the way we used to walk around even 10 years ago.
No one takes advantage of a crisp autumn day to look at the changing leaves or the unexpected curiosities of the urban landscape. No one nods, or flirts, or even looks at anyone else. Everyone has the same drugged, internal, abstracted look: and why?
Because we are all on the mobile. We are either making a call – a call that could almost certainly wait until we get to a landline – and have the tool glued to our sweating ear. Or else we have it in our hands.
See how we heft it and coddle it. Watch how we stroke its smooth skin and wonder what use to make of it next. Shall we dial a number and disconnect, just to leave our electronic spoor? Shall we send a text, an emoticon, a pictogram?
Everyone has one now, in his breast pocket or her handbag, a chocolate-bar-sized dispenser of personal gratification. We can all have that buzz now, whenever we want: the comfort of a voice, the quick fix of external affirmation that we need to get us through the day.
Yes, the British people – make that the human race – have a new addiction that needs feeding. There are now 40,000 mobile phone masts in the United Kingdom, and a further 8,000 are likely to be constructed in the next three years.