Experience VS Connection Part 2: Two Different Wants.

In my last article I wrote about a difference between experiencing something and a pervasive sense of connection but stopped short of delving into the differences between the two and how they relate to each other. Part two of this article series covers just that. The difference between experience and connection, and the critical relationship they share.

What’s an Experience?

An experience is anything that you witness, feel or take part in. Experience builds our memories and impacts our views, whether those experiences are memorable or not. The philosophy at Whirple is to create the most meaningful and engaging experiences possible between fans and their favorite artists.

What is Connection?

Connection has a less clear definition in the modern world. Thirty years ago, you rarely if ever heard anyone ask, “Are we too connected?” since the very idea of connection was reserved for the very few in our social circles. Simply, there were few channels that only a few could access. Before telephones became common place we had mail services and really it was only after the advent of the Internet Age that our ability to connect with others became global in a meaningful way. Today, there are many channels accessed by many. Multiplicity of online forums and different types of social media have made interconnection instantaneous.

 

The appeal of social media comes from wanting to bridge the gap between experience and connection. We want to experience wonderful things but we also have a natural drive to share those experiences with people we care about. As technology flourishes and expands its reach, we can instantly share our views and experiences across distance and borders that were impossible a few decades ago.

The technology that makes sharing and spreading ideas feels liberating and amazing as it gives everyone a voice. As we know, however, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. This realization hit me hard when Chris Rock did a show in Toronto recently with a complete mobile phone ban inside the arena. I was forced to spend an evening without my phone for the first time in years. For one night, there was no buzzing in my pocket. The temptation to see what notifications I had awaiting me vanished. I didn’t feel the need to share what was happening around me in real time with anyone else apart from sharing in the experience of my friends in attendance with me. And therein lies the central problem. An abundance or flood of connections often distracts and takes away from the experience of what is present before us.

At the same time, you can’t eliminate the connections that exist in the global village today. It’s here to stay and too important. So then where do we go from here? My suggestion is to strike a balance. I saw The Last Jedi without my phone and it does make a difference. At no point did I have any concern for these hanging threads in my life because I didn’t have access to them for a period of time. Instead, I was in the moment of the experience itself with people around me. I was not part of a large swath of people in the ocean of social media.

Community = Connection + Experience

Why is understanding the relationship between connection and experience important? It’s important because getting experience and connection wrong keeps us further apart. Getting them right brings us closer to a sacred social need that we call community.

Part three will cover this idea of Community, and how modern technology has affected it.

Experience vs Connection Part 1: A Surprising Discovery

This article is the first in a 4-part series about how to increase our ability to have meaningful experiences in the digital age.

My past few weeks have been turned on their head. Chris Rock was in Toronto and I scored tickets. Selling out the Air Canada Center, Chris Rock was on point talking about culture, politics and the harsh lessons learned in his divorce. Occupying the stage beneath the glow of a sign pronouncing in bold red “Comfort is the Poison“, Rock had us laughing, clapping and gasping for air.

So why am I talking about this? Because his show was markedly different from any other comedy special I’ve ever attended. Chris Rock has joined with a number of live performers in banning the use of all cell phones from their shows. As I later learned they put your phone into a lock bag so you can’t access it and on the surface, this may seem like your average anti-piracy policy but it’s actually something that comedians and performers, most notably Dave Chappelle, have been talking about for years. That so much of our day-to-day experience is filtered through our phones and the screens around us we don’t get to fully appreciate and experience things. The lesson is to put away the phone and be in the moment.

So did it make a difference? If so what?

Surprisingly, it made a big difference, and I’ve been doing it more often. The four friends who attended Rock’s show left our phones at home or in the trunk of the car and spent the night device free. We were left to experience the show and each other’s company. It was engaging in a way that I had forgotten. Because even off, a phone in your pocket reminds you of everything and everyone else you are connected to. It was like losing a background noise you’d grown accustomed to and hearing your favorite song clearly. That night, amidst the memories of Chris Rock’s signature delivery, was a promise I made to go to a convention and leave my phone at home. Since that show, I’ve left my phone at home when I run small errands or get coffee. I’ve really started noticing more of the people and things around me.

I want to make a point clear. I am not discounting or disparaging new technologies or their ability to connect us in new and better ways. I’m saying is there is a time and place for everything. What I’m saying is that there are cases where connection and experience are not the same things and perhaps one side sacrificing for the other isn’t a bad thing. Try it yourself. The next time you go the cinema, or out for dinner, or drinks with friends, leave your phone at home or in the car. Pay attention to the tiny ways you communicate and notice the things around you. Like me, I hope it makes a positive difference in your life by leaving the technology at home.

What’s next?

For me, I was able to watch and enjoy what was happening on screen without needing or feeling obligated to tune out and share a line or a reaction with the Internet. My next challenge will be to attend a fan convention without my phone and enjoy the moment. Wish me luck. In my next article in the series, I will explain the difference between experience and connection.