Antisocial social expectations.

You don’t have to look hard to find the vast majority of the public accessing mobile devices. As mobile phone technologies are becoming more advanced and innovated, the use of these devices is definitely on the rise. With the majority of these devices used for social media access, users can stay connected anywhere, anytime over multiple platforms. This allows for users to access these platforms regularly when in public, offering a sense of security and belonging for their user. From University, to bus stops, to restaurants, to libraries; mobile phones are being profusely checked by their users as a means of filling time in between daily activities.

When I sat down during my break between tutorials last Wednesday at Uni, I decided to observe the mobile device usage in the area next to Rush and Boost Juice. After ordering my latte I sat down at one of the smaller tables, opened my laptop and watched for a good hour. The lunchtime rush was in full swing at around 1:00pm and when I looked at the lines at both outlets, almost every person was accessing their smartphone or tablet. Even in groups of friends there were 1 or 2 people looking at screens. The assumption for most was that they were accessing social media, which is the predominate use amongst the Uni population of students. I also noticed many of these people would carry on their conversations whilst simultaneously checking their mobiles.

These observations lead me to raise some questions regarding mobile usage amongst peers when in social groups. Just what are the social expectations of mobile phone/device usage? Is it acceptable to be regularly checking your mobile during conversations? At the dinner table? During lectures? For the majority of people whom I observed at Uni, they are completely acceptable in social situations and conversations, or so it would seem. Perhaps people of the technological age have become accustomed to having mobiles and tablets present in everyday social situations; they’ve become a part of daily lives, particularly with the rise of social media popularity. Most of us are guilty of being glued to our mobiles for prolonged periods, scrolling few news feeds and posting selfies on Instagram. But are these trends affecting our social interactions with our friends?

This again brings me back to Sherry Turkle’s concept of being “alone together” when it comes to personal relationships and mobile devices. We continue to live our lives surrounded by personal devices, checking our interactions and popularity but forgetting the importance of personal, face-to-face conversations with our friends and family. This is a vital aspect of our lives that is severely lacking and is depleting due to the rise of mobile technology and will continue to do so, so long as its accepted in our society and considered a social norm.

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