Being on Social Media Counts as Being Social IRL, Right?

As I stroll around UOW campus, I take notice of people using their various screens, it interests me to see the interaction of screens, in relation to friendships. Example, there is a games room with lounges and pillows for friends to sit and play Wii Mario Kart and other (less important) games. However, when I went in there I noticed a whole bunch of friends using their own laptops to play games together, (probably Fortnite or something). I found it interesting that rather than watch one screen, they chose to use several mini screens to  play. This then also meant, they did not speak to one another, unless through their keyboards.

42641646_2212329972370071_4108857111704764416_n They did not speak the entire time I was there

It made me curious to see how others interacted with screens and friends over the campus.

42716278_2200374200243828_3320661201922293760_n.jpg 42649080_241037309921429_1689185344454393856_n 42648071_249424412384536_8108944730689110016_n.jpg 42641396_2214700985452050_6024920053416198144_n.jpg

In all of the above examples, what is the common theme happening?

People aren’t interacting with friends. They are sitting alone with their laptop or phone. Head in the internet- thinking they are being social, when really their behaviour is quite the opposite. Although, yes, people could be simply doing uni work, which is mostly completed online but, realistically (and I did see a few screens) they are on social media or Netflix/Stan.

Looking at these people made me question my own habits when at uni. My time is split between sitting with friends for lunch and watching Stan (have been binging Parks and Rec lately) but even further when I am out with friends and I see public screens.

42646540_577605539339971_3819440358211715072_n  My usual uni set-up- Stan, headphones and food


I have two key examples:

  • Harry and Meghan’s wedding: I was out with my two best friends and we (somehow) ended up at Macca’s the night of the wedding. We sat down and without even realising, I had sat so I could see the TV that was showing the wedding. I kinda didn’t really care the wedding (sure, I wanted to see the dress but that was about it) and yet, I was compelled to look up at the screen every couple of minutes, to see what was happening and what celebrities and Royals were in attendance!
  • Note: There were also multiple staff members doing the same

Widholm and Becker (2015) discuss how the notion of public screens encourage people to gather in groups to watch broadcasts, of such event like the Royal wedding. They highlight how it is considered a culturally important event, hence why there is an emphasis on individuals gathering and watching it on public screens. Utilising the public screens helps add ‘further dimensions’ (Widholm & Becker, 2015) and bringing it in a public sector, it helps build relationships surrounding the event.

  • Football: Sharks and Roosters were playing, I was with a whole group of friends, at North Wollongong Hotel, none of us fussed about the game, I have not been interested in football for a long time. But similarly to the wedding, I was looking for updates and getting distracted.


I am now more determined not to take notice of public screens and focus more on my friends. Will this be a challenge? I do not know, let’s hope I am not so addicted I can’t cope.


Andreas Widholm & Karin Becker (2015) Celebrating with the celebrities: television in public space during two royal weddings, Celebrity Studies, 6:1, 6-22, DOI: 10.1080/19392397.2015.995897

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