In-person communication feels binary to me now: subjects are either private, confessional, and soulful or frantically current, determined mostly by critical mass, interesting only in their ephemeral status. Increasingly these modes of talk seem mutually exclusive. You can pull someone aside—away from the party, onto the fire escape—and confess to a foible or you can stay inside with the group and make a joke about something everyone’s read online. “Maybe you keep the wrong company,” my mother suggests. Maybe. But I like my friends! We can sympathize with each other and feel reassured that we’re not alone in our overeager consumption, denigrated self-control, and anxiety masked as ambition. Part of the difficulty is that the pace of online narratives (Tumblr posts, Jezebel comment fights, truffle-whatever) resembles that of tabloids or all-or-nothing friends. Maintaining interest in any of them demands constant devotion and attention. Tabloids are only interesting as long as you’re always reading them; let your checkout-line-skimming lapse for a week and the thought of celebrity gossip seems pointless. Same with all-or-nothing friends: they’re only compelling if you talk to them all the time; when the chatty, daily interactions end so does the prospect of an interesting expository conversation. Without consistency, a long phone call seems not only daunting but also profoundly dull.