Social Media and Our Shared Experiences

by Ken Mueller on September 24, 2012 · 40 comments

white 15 Social Media and Our Shared ExperiencesSend to Kindle

300px FamilyWatchingTV1958crop Social Media and Our Shared Experiences

When you think of the word “media” the first thing that probably comes to mind would be something along the lines of news or entertainment. But beyond that, while we may attend to media for those purposes on our own, media is also about shared experiences. On any given morning you might stand around the coffee machine at work discussing the previous evening’s episode of a favorite program, or perhaps the weekend’s football games, and there’s a LOT to discuss after this weekends games!

Or maybe you watched the Emmys…

“OMG, Tracy Morgan just passed out on the stage at the Emmys. Turn on ABC now!”

With television, we watch in isolation, but then seek out others with whom we can share those experiences. It’s a matter of bonding and community.

In the pre-broadcast era, our shared experiences involved being in the same place at the same time, from public events to the theater. The rise of broadcasting in the first half of the 20th century altered those experiences as news and entertainment were brought into the home. Radio listeners shared the experience of WWII, but in isolation. Through television we shared the experiences of the Kennedy assassination, Viet Nam, and the Challenger explosion. We also shared the good times of man’s first steps on the moon or great sports moments. And a billion of us watched as 33 miners were rescued from a collapsed mine in Chile.

While we watched and listened to these events in our homes or cars, we were still able to connect with others after the fact. I have vivid memories of experiencing 9/11 while working at the Paley Center for Media (then the Museum of Television & Radio) in NYC. While I was several miles away from Ground Zero at the moment of the attacks, I shared that experience with friends, family, and co-workers.

But all of that was either alone, or in small groups, often just my family.

With nearly a billion people on Facebook, and half as many on Twitter, we now experience events with countless others, in isolation, yet in real time. We don’t just watch television; we watch and tweet. We discuss what’s happening on our favorite programs on Facebook. Whether it’s American Idol or the finale of Lost, we sit in our homes, perhaps alone, but we engage in conversation as we watch. It’s a fractured community, but a community nonetheless.

Social media has created a global village that even Marshall McLuhan could never have imagined. From the privacy of our homes, we share these experiences with both our friends around the world, as well as the countless strangers who just happen to be watching what we’re watching, and sharing the same digital space.

According to the folks at the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than half of use our cellphones while watching TV. We’re texting, tweeting, and engaging with others, and that doesn’t include those of us who might be using laptops or other digital devices while watching. And as the adoption of smart phones increases, we will see more of this; we are increasingly connected to the outside world in very personal and real-time ways.

My first real experience with this was in 2008 as I watched my Philadelphia Phillies win their first World Series in nearly three decades. Not only did I share that experience with my family as we watched the games in the comfort of our family room, but I connected with a much larger community online, as we live tweeted the event.

Pew’s research indicates that this was also a big part of our Olympic experience this summer, as we followed our favorite events and athletes online. Those who worry about social media further isolating us couldn’t be more wrong. We are making more connections, more often, and they are real.

For those who use social media, this is no surprise. Shared media experiences are the new norm. We share triumph and tragedy. We share great sports moments, as well as favorite television shows. Communities are formed and nurtured. Log onto Facebook or Twitter over the next few months and see what happens. Football games, a presidential election, natural disasters, and television cliffhangers. All of these will be among the experiences we share with a greater community that extends far beyond any physical borders. We are connected and we are not alone.

What experiences have you shared with others online, while sitting in the comfort of your own home?

 Social Media and Our Shared Experiences
Buffer
35 comments
markwschaefer
markwschaefer

@qualityhunters same to you. Have a great weekend.

joyadele
joyadele

@KristaKotrla Hey there, pretty lady! How are things on the homefront?

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

You make a great point about the big moments -- tragedies, championship games, and the like. I think the small moments enjoy the same dynamic. I remember you and I tweeting about the CNBC Customer Disservice documentary. Not a major life moment by any means, just an opportunity for connection for two people hundreds of miles away.

twisst58
twisst58

@kmueller62 ISS will cross your sky early in the morning. It comes up in the North at 5:27 am. Details: http://t.co/e7pJK4Yc

susansilver
susansilver

I watched  My Chemical Romance launch their new album with a live concert on Youtube. I Tweeted my support with others watching at the same time. It really made me feel that I was sharing the experience as if I had been there live. 

Latest blog post: Keywords Now What?

C_Pappas
C_Pappas

First thing that came to mind was all the conversations around the Opening Ceremony at the Olympics this year (and you were in on that too Ken!). I was watching from my home - alone - and chatting online with everyone as if we were all in the same room together. I was laughing and 'chatting' and having a blast.

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

In the past few months blogging and Twitter have given me a whole new set of people that I hope to include as friends. It's hard to break into friendship from mere acquaintance in this 2D form, as Margie calls it. But it's pretty cool. 

I remember the John Kennedy assassination as a first-grader. We stuck around the house watching TV for the next few days. The only time we took a break to go to the store, we came back to the news (and film) that Lee Harvey Oswald had been killed. 

What a time. 

geoffliving
geoffliving

Man, I remember when the Phillies won in in 2008. Twitter erupted and @Philliesnation was hilarious!  Those moments make it special.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

You know the elections always conjure tweets; the earthquakes, tsunamis and news of the victims in  New Zealand and Haiti and elsewhere. Any global natural disaster becomes a platform for 'raderie. 

margieclayman
margieclayman

You should totally join us for Hecklers' Hangout this week, Ken. Kaarina, Brian and I have been on this wavelength for a bit now. It seems like more and more people are longing for personal contact versus this flat 2-dimensional stuff. I daresay it's becoming a counter-revolution.

Great post! 

amywcw
amywcw

@KDillabough @kmueller62 Such great and inspiring reading your blogs. A list to add in my list of bloggers.

amywcw
amywcw

@KDillabough @kmueller62 Such great reading your blogs. Ways of inspiring and a list to add in to my favorite bloggers.

CarrieJKeenan
CarrieJKeenan

@frankisca Thanks for the share - rock on with your early start today! You make me feel like I slept in!

KristaKotrla
KristaKotrla

@joyadele still recovering and trying to get rest here and there. Baby is doing great tho! How are you??

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@susansilver That's a great example, Susan. I think that we are going to see many more events like that, created for just that type of shared experience.

Latest blog post: Are You Connected?

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@C_Pappas It makes me sad that you were alone, but glad we could all share those experiences! You need to make some friends!

Latest blog post: Are You Connected?

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@barrettrossie And now we share those experiences in real time, online. I often wonder what something like WWII would have been like if social media had existed, and how it might have changed the speed or outcome of the war. Radio was such a huge factor in the victory of the Allies, but social media would have really changed things. But we can only speculate.

Latest blog post: Are You Connected?

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@geoffliving It was a beautiful thing. Perhaps you'll see the same thing this year with the Nats. Definitely won't be the case with the Phils!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@margieclayman I will if I can free up the time. This is sort of a non-week for me. But perhaps I can come on as a guest some time and talk about this and some of other other theoretical stuff I've been studying and writing about elsewhere in terms of media theory and convergence, etc.

KDillabough
KDillabough

@amywcw @kmueller62 Thanks so much: I appreciate that!

kmueller62
kmueller62

@amywcw @KDillabough Thanks! and thanks for sharing!

frankisca
frankisca

@carrieatthill Ha! Yeah, 5:30am isn't going to be a normal occurrence. Had to take my dad to GB airport for early flight.

joyadele
joyadele

@KristaKotrla Good. Rest is good. so glad your sweet baby is great! I'm still on the prowl. ;-)

amywcw
amywcw

@kmueller62 @KDillabough Most pleasure and many blessings!

CarrieJKeenan
CarrieJKeenan

@frankisca I wondered - started to feel like a slacker all of the sudden ;) Go get some coffee

CarrieJKeenan
CarrieJKeenan

@frankisca You too - the gameday countdown is on! #GoPackGo

frankisca
frankisca

@carrieatthill Oh, I've been chugging the coffee since 3:00am when I got up! Finally starting to feel awake. Have a great Monday. #gopack

Trackbacks

  1. [...] over on Ken Mueller’s blog Inkling Media, he wrote about Social Media and our Shared Experiences. He too was sharing the fact the social media has enabled us to become closer and to share [...]

  2. [...] Social Media and Our Shared Experiences (inklingmedia.net) [...]

  3. [...] Social Media and Our Shared Experiences (inklingmedia.net) [...]

  4. [...] in our lives, rather than helping us move on to new platforms. As we see the media encourage us to share our experience by live tweeting with hashtags, more of us are drawn to that platform. As major media outlets use [...]

  5. [...] It was a tradition, and we felt a connection to the event, based on our personal and shared experiences. [...]

Previous post:

Next post: