Defined as the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks, banter plays an important part in relationships. Irony, humour and sarcasm are just some of the ways a conversation can be enlivened. In fact, without it life would be intolerably dull.

But it is a condiment; something that adds flavour or texture or to an existing dish in order to enhance it. Engaging in banter with a complete stranger is more likely to end in a fight than a hug, there being no existing relationship on which to gauge the nature of the exchange. Removing all but banter from a friendship will almost certainly turn an appetising meal into a tasteless morsel.

In the high-volume open world of social media, there is pressure to portray our lives and relationships as substantial and worthy of note, and banter is a shortcut to achieve that as a quick wit can turn heads and offer a quick win. Whether online or offline, relationships that are exclusively superficial and seek to make headway without the foundations of personal and possibly more private appreciation will inevitably will go the way of the dodo.

Even with all the water in the world, no one can survive on salt.

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