I'm looking for an expression for interpersonal communication which happens in the real life (for example, conversations at dinner table) as opposed to that which happens on the social media. The one that I sense is probably close is offline communication, but I'm unsure about it.

Which expression best fills the following blank?

Due to addiction to social media and lack of ____ , many people become unable to socialise with others offline.

  • So when my wife says What do you fancy for dinner tonight?, that constitutes an off-line communication does it?
    – WS2
    Feb 14, 2016 at 12:04
  • I've always talked to people be it online or offline. If you want to specify the difference than say lack of conversation skills AKA the art of conversation
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 14, 2016 at 12:33
  • 1
    It's called "real communication", or perhaps "conversation". If the parties are in physical proximity of each other (vs over the phone) then it's "face-to-face communication".
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 11, 2016 at 22:20

4 Answers 4


Use some variant of the phrase "unmediated _____".

"Social media" refers to "media" the plural of "medium" which refers to something that is in between or in the middle (< Latin "medius"). You are asking for the opposite of that, which could be referred to as unmediated communication or unmediated social interaction.

  • I just googled it and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. Cheers!
    – Vim
    Feb 14, 2016 at 15:37

You could consider using face-to-face communication or face-to-face discourse:

Face-to-face interaction (less often, face-to-face communication or face-to-face discourse) is a concept in sociology, linguistics, media and communication studies describing social interaction carried out without any mediating technology.


  • 1
    What's wrong with the word speaking, (or, at most verbal conversation) that you need to change it into face-to-face interaction? It sounds like the janitor's handbook which referred to translocation of dirt, which it was pointed out meant sweeping up. Why can't you use the English you were born with? So speaking is a concept in sociology, linguistics, media, and communication studies describing social interaction carried out without any mediating technology, is it? I shall have to remember that.
    – WS2
    Feb 14, 2016 at 12:07
  • @WS2 Can't you speak or have verbal conversation over Skype?
    – user140086
    Feb 14, 2016 at 12:11
  • Thanks for your source. By the way, will "offline communication" do? And will "online communication" be proper to use to describe communication on social media?
    – Vim
    Feb 14, 2016 at 12:12
  • You can also have it over the telephone. But we have managed since the days of Alexander Graham Bell without a need to talk about face-to-face interaction, - or at least I have.
    – WS2
    Feb 14, 2016 at 12:15
  • 2
    @Vim I shall have to retire for a while. I need to have some offline communication with my wife about what we are doing this afternoon.
    – WS2
    Feb 14, 2016 at 12:17

Seems to me that the word you're looking for is just "direct". "lack of direct communication" makes perfect sense (and strikes me, for one, as expressing the intent much more...directly than "unmediated").

  • Wow. Honestly direct was the very first choice to pop in to my mind but then I thought maybe it was too broad (why cannot online communication count as direct communication? Or, what is indirect communication? I wonder)
    – Vim
    Feb 14, 2016 at 17:14
  • "Personal" and "direct" seem to cover the territory without resorting to esoterica. +1
    – The Nate
    Feb 14, 2016 at 17:34
  • @Vim: at least to me, "indirect" would mean "via some sort of mediator"--such as social media. Feb 14, 2016 at 18:29

Sherry Turkle, author of "Alone Together: Why we Expect more from Technology and Less from Each other" calls it real-time conversation.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.