Talking to someone online in chat, instant message, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. is equivalent to talking to them on the phone. These micro-conversations are how people keep in touch with friends and others without actually feeling obligated to see each other.

I used to think it was the other way around. In high school, I got frustrated when my best friends would say they chatted with me without actually doing so on the phone or in person. I never thought digital communication counted as a real conversation, especially email, which I still don’t.

Email doesn’t count as a micro-conversation since it’s not live but merely a thread of archival conversation. This may change though if Twitter becomes the new email and creates more immediacy.

Micro-conversation is an easy way to replace a legitimate conversation and still stay top of mind. But it still feels like such a cheap workaround. FaceTime may be reconnecting faces again, but it too can feel impersonal.

Traditional conversation is changing. We communicate in bite sized pictures, emojis, and supplementary text. The wave of the future is talking through screens.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.