What Is Your Favorite Shared Experience?

Humans are a social species. We like to connect with other humans, to share ideas and experiences. A shared experience, like a movie or a concert, is more enjoyable than the same activity done in isolation.

As such, things we can do together have a special place in our psyches. We remember where we were when a impactful moment happens, one that everyone knows. The moon landing. 9/11. The space shuttle Challenger explosion.

Often these events can be traumatic, like the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. or JFK. But they can also be a cultural event, like the final episode of a TV show like M*A*S*H or Seinfeld. Or a movie like The Avengers, or a sporting event like the Super Bowl.

Personally, I don’t know much about Game of Thrones. I’ve never read any of the books or seen any of the TV shows. But I felt a sense of loss as the final few episodes aired recently.

The shows aren’t going anywhere. Now that they are all done, I can binge watch the whole thing any time I want. But the communal feeling that viewers had, knowing that a large percentage of society was paying attention, cannot be recaptured.

I wish I had been part of a viewing party. Or been able to talk to friends or co-workers about what shocking thing happened last night. Or been able to appreciate the late night talk show jokes, or read any of the seemingly endless blogs or magazine articles dissecting every minor detail of each of the last few episodes.

Those moments, of a shared community, makes us feel like we are part of more than just our tiny selves.

When have you felt a part of a cultural moment? What is your favorite shared experience?

Related questions: What is your favorite experience? Where do shared ideas exist? Why do we feel the need to belong? What do we have in common? What makes a community?

2 thoughts on “What Is Your Favorite Shared Experience?”

  1. I love powerful moments at concerts, when the audience is singing in unison, sharing a moment and feelings.

    My favorite experience was when U2 performed in Minneapolis on 23 July 2011. The whole concert is memorable to me. But when a light rain turned into torrential rainfall, the power of the show amped up even more. Rather than calling it a night, as we all — including most of the band — got soaked, U2 played on. The band and crowd was bound together by songs and circumstance. Beautiful!

    The rain-soaked and moving rendition of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” sticks with me the most.

  2. Upon reading your question, I immediately conjured an image of Obama’s first inauguration back in 2009. A friend and I went up to the Regent Theatre in Arlington Center, where they were projecting the festivities onto the screen. To be a part of that hopeful moment, with a house full of humans sharing in it–and even though the next eight years fell far short of my hopes–thinking of that still brings tears.

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