The demands of flexible labour and the technologization of social networks are currently being felt in profound shifts in the ways in which we spend time with others. This article analyses the everyday communicative practices of adults living in Sydney surrounding their use of text messaging in shared social spaces. Asking the research participants when, how and why they rely on text messaging exposes increasingly routine transgressions of boundaries between different social spheres. While participants were acutely aware of largely unspoken social norms and expectations attached to mobile phone use in the presence of others, they themselves strategically used text messages to create layers of intimacy within shared social spaces. We explore the implications of this tension by highlighting how rituals of social interaction are cared about by social actors but play into a wider sense of the abandonment of care for the presence of others.