The return of the shared experience through Twitter

The fragmentation of audiences due to modern multichannel and multiplatform media has lead to a decline in shared experiences. In times past, much of the population would have watched the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Special. This created common cultural experiences for a nation; reference points, shared feeling and identity.

These days, the population has grown but most programmes struggle to manage a few million viewers. Viewing habits are diffused; it’s more difficult to share experiences and feel a common identity as a result. Yet while technology may fragment audiences, it also holds the potential to rekindle these shared experiences once more.

Yesterday was Eurovision day; not a high-point of musical talent perhaps but it still draws significant audiences. It’s the first Eurovision contest since Twitter really hit the mainstream and a huge number of users simultaneously commenting on the event was clearly in evidence. A sizeable chunk of my Twitter followers were commenting with celebrity Tweeters such as @wossy creating a lot of activity.

Hilarious comments abounded, the real corkers being re-tweeted, yet best of all were the conversations between users sharing often common views on the procedings. Although the number of posts on the songs made it impossible to keep up (there seemed to be around a thousand a minute much of the time), browsing the Tweets using Twitterfall or Twitter search showed much of the country were enjoying similar reactions to what they were seeing onscreen. Highlights for many included Albania’s ‘Blue Gimp’ and the tight silver trousers worn by the German singer, on which @simonwxm commented “That reminds me. Need to buy tin foil tomorrow. #eurovision”.

Managing Tweets is still relatively in its infancy, meaning in most cases users would have likely seen different sets of tweets. There’s yet a system that aggregates the most popular tweets on a topic that I know of, however the sense of a common feeling, a community indeed, was unmistakable. As inane as the show may be, this year’s Eurovision must have been one of the most tweeted events to date and I feel it represents potential for a revival of shared experience and identity as the technology evolves and matures.


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