Liraz Margalit on Why We Crave Social Media

They enable us to infer the other person’s intentions, as well as how involved they are in the conversation, whether they are stressed or relaxed, if they are attracted to us, and so on. Nonverbal signals add a level of depth to the interaction, but demand cognitive and emotional effort.

In one of the first episodes of HBO's Girls, Hannah discusses with Marnie the heirarchy of various types of communication: text, Google chat, Facebook messenger, email. Face-to-face is best, she says, and of phone conversations she simply says they're "not of this time."

Most of us can relate. I've never been much for phone conversations, and, except in rare cases, I strongly prefer text. I'm not alone in that; these days, most of us seem to prefer online communication for its efficiency.

Why is that? And what are the tradeoffs?

The emotional involvement behind social media interactions