We used to ask people the time so that we could start a conversation. Or ask for directions in the hopes that they might walk with us. Or any number of similar conversational gambits that might move the relational ball forward.
In a New York Times article entitled Disruptions: Digital Era Redefining Etiquette, author Nick Bilton writes about the balance between time-wasting pleasantries and modern-era communication protocols. I do a lot of this wrong;