This article assesses phatic communication now, when symbolic efficiency is in decline. As a result of neoliberal capitalism and industrialized social media, small talk is both obligatory and suffused with anxiety. Under disciplinary society, chitchat has been a threat to biopolitical control. Today, small talk is a form of surplus value that enters directly into the market. No longer a ritual of social facilitation, phatic communication takes on a pathological character. This article relies on psychoanalytic theory to complicate Paolo Virno’s take on the contemporary position of phatic language. In so doing, it asks: what does small talk become once the symbolic pact that ensured its efficacy has been broken?