Small Talk in Our Digital Everyday Life: The Contours of a Phatic Culture


This paper focuses on the present trend in media use that emphasises the social connection over the content of the speech. Small communicative processes and indexical gestures are numerous especially in the digital area and they are symptomatic for the category of phatic communication. The article explains the concept of “phatic”, from Malinowski and Jakobson to the contemporary approaches that propose terms such as “phatic technologies” and “phatic systems”. Also, revisiting Heidegger’s arguments on the concept of “idle talk”, we grasp several key aspects of understanding phatic communication. The characteristics and possible negative consequences of a raising phatic media culture are discussed, underlining its complexity and the modalities in which it can re-shape our behaviours and our valuable cultural tools (dialogue, conversation or narratives).

Keywords: small talk, phatic communion, phatic communication, unimportant language, phatic culture

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