Shared experiences – still a staple to our culture?

group looking at smartphone

Two events in the world of sports last month prompted me to think about the role shared experiences play in our lives, and specifically in a remote work environment these days.

The first was the release of Super Bowl ads (in full or as teasers) before the actual Super Bowl game. Not sure about you, but my fondest football-watching memories are chuckling on the couch with my family and friends to the commercials we viewed for the first time together. From a marketing perspective, it is understandable that the investment ultimately pays off greater with more anticipation and exposure prior to the big game, but I, as a very infrequent social media user, felt the shared experience of enjoyment over Super Bowl ads was lost.

The second event was when Lebron James broke the NBA record for all-time leading scorer. The photo of this event was compared to Michael Jordan’s game-winning 1998 NBA Finals shot in a viral side-by-side image of “no phones out vs. all phones out”. While the fans at the 1998 game couldn’t necessarily pull out their smart phones to record it, there is a clear differentiation in the fan emotion during each shared experience.

Our perception and the reality of shared experiences has changed, with more emphasis on reactions and communications through the lens of a device rather than authentic interactions in person. While tech has allowed us to extend the breadth of our relationships and engagements far beyond an inner circle, how do we maintain the same level of connection through shared experiences? Are remote shared experiences as fundamental to community structure as in-person shared experiences?

My team turns on their video during calls, preaches communication is critical to community, and meets regularly for business review meetings. We love collaborating to create quality content and to provide great service in our day-to-day, but the best shared experiences have been over a good meal or volunteer opportunity together.

If you read this blog, please do send me a note at I’d love to hear your favorite and most effective ways to engage others in your workplace and among your network of friends, family, and colleagues. Thank you!

Leah McQuillan – Research Manager