Thanks to social media, you're not the only one spending tonight on the couch.
During the early rounds of a reality TV show, I noticed that one of the would-be finalists had the same unusual name as a guy that my friend Jesse* had once dated. I grabbed my phone and fired off a text, knowing Jesse would also be tuned in. He confirmed that it was indeed him, and we spent the rest of the episode texting about the finer points of his, er, technique. On our couches, in our apartments just a few suburbs apart, we each had one eye on the TV and one on our phones – we were "sofalising".
Whether it's with your best friends on Facebook or complete strangers via the Twitter stream of your favourite TV show, sofalising is fast becoming one of our preferred ways to keep in touch. Instead of heading out with our friends for coffee or cocktails after work, we're heading home, crashing out on the couch and plugging in our beloved digital devices.
"Social networking has become as much a ‘genuine' form of communication as face-to-face communication," says Dr Joann Lukins, a psychologist from Peak Performance Psychology. "It gives us the opportunity to seek those with similar interests, to find and maintain old and new friendships, and to maintain relationships with others who are geographically separated."
And if the Twitter streams of shows like The Voice and My Kitchen Rules are anything to go by, on any given night there are thousands of us sofalising around the country.
"I like that you can watch TV at home on your own, but manage to convince yourself that you're doing something social, so it doesn't feel like a waste of time," says Trish, 30, who spends anywhere from two to six nights a week sofalising.
For stay-at-home mum Danielle, 28, sofalising gives her the opportunity to keep in touch with friends she couldn't see otherwise. She says, "It's the only way I can stay involved in grown-up conversations even while simultaneously breastfeeding and reading bedtime stories."
However, Dr Lukins is quick to point out that it can have its downsides as well. "If people are relying on virtual communication and isolating themselves from face-to-face contact with their peers, it can be problematic," she
says. She recommends being mindful of your social media usage, especially while in the company of others, and even setting daily time limits if you need to. Dr Lukins insists it's critical to schedule in offline time as well. After all, a virtual cocktail will never taste as good as the real thing!
But while our forms of communication might be changing, our favourite topics of conversation aren't. "I could be at home with a sniffly kid, see a post on Facebook and then still be able to say, ‘OMG, did you see what she was wearing?!'” laughs Danielle.
*Name has been changed.
What TV shows do you 'sofalise' while watching?