How did it start?

Anti Awkward Turtle started as a university project for social innovation and engagement. The task was to choose a social issue of interest and create a campaign that raises awareness for the chosen cause.

Social media was chosen because of its growing significance in our daily routine. We’re always seen looking down at our phones – at the train station or waiting in line for lunch. We’re even texting while we walk! This is how the campaign was born – a notion to combat social neglect of our physical surroundings.

On the rare occasion I walk with my mum to the train station in the morning, I always see her smile and say, “Hi!” or “Good morning” to almost every person she passes. The usual faces to her always respond with a hearty greeting. For us Gen Y’s, this is completely foreign. We don’t get to experience this kind of raw interaction because we’re too immersed in our own space. Too closed off from the rest of the world.

I do understand that for many people, reading through their social spaces online is the only down-time they have after a busy day – and that’s completely fine! But we’ve all seen our friends take out their phone instead of socialising with the group or the long line of people on the station platform busy tapping away on their screens. What about kids that need an iPad to keep them entertained? Is this really the world we want to continue living in 15, 20 years from now?

The campaign was further inspired by the death of famous actor, Robin Williams, to add the element of brightening someone’s day with a simple, “hey!”. His sudden passing showed us that even the happiest people (or so it may seem) may be going through a hard time. Instead of paying so much attention to the device in our hands and social media, why not try put a smile on someone’s face? 🙂

The point isn’t promoting the unrealistic approach of stop using social media or leaving your phone at home. Social media is great! We’re by no means shunning it’s invention. Instead, it’s about encouraging the use of them at appropriate times – for a good cause even – rather than all the time.


Created by Lily Fan (University of New South Wales)

with special thanks to Peter Le (University of Sydney) and Leo Wang (University of Sydney).


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