Sharing – everyone’s doing it. US scientists who watched chimpanzees watching videos together observed them experiencing the same sense of bonding and closeness as humans gain from this shared experience. It points to the "deep evolutionary roots" of this human trait.
Sharing is not lost on communicators of all kinds. The makers of Love Island and broadcasters of royal weddings understand how shared experiences stimulate intense emotions and make us feel life is worthwhile. Sharing is also a gift for charity communicators.
Our focus on audience engagement has been a catalyst for experiential communications. Young Minds’ #5YearOldSelfie campaign invited social media followers to share photos of their five-year-old selves and three things they would tell those children, creating a message bank to draw on when life gets you down. Timed to coincide with the stressful exam season, it was authentic and contagiously shareable. The Wildlife Trusts' Big Wild Weekend brought people together to share nature experiences, from picnics to badger walks and puffin counts. And Pride Boxing UK fostered a safe, inclusive space for boxing novices from the LGBTQ+ community to learn a new sport.
Social media and the internet allow us to stay in touch and bond with people, but I wonder if virtual experiences are having as profound and positive an impact on our emotional wellbeing? At worst, constantly dipping into other people’s experiences and comparing ourselves can fuel anxiety and the fear of missing out. Researchers somewhere are probably on the case.
Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms