Here’s some support on the value of live experiences. Researchers from Yale University have shown that sharing an experience with another person intensifies the experience for both individuals.
“We often think that what matters in social life is being together with others, but we’ve found it also really matters what those people are doing,” said Erica Boothy, a psychological scientist at Yale University and the study’s lead researcher. “When people are paying attention to the same pleasant thing, whether the Mona Lisa or a song on the radio, our research shows that the experience is much more pleasurable. And the reverse is true of unpleasant experiences—not sharing them makes them more pleasurable, while sharing them makes them worse.”
Boothy and her colleagues had study participants tastes chocolate samples while engaging in a shared activity of looking at a book of paintings. The researchers told them the samples were different, but they were really from the same bar. Participants liked the chocolate more when they each tasted it at the same time compared to when one person tasted the sample while the other looked at the book. In fact, the “shared” chocolate was described as more flavorful. Remember, all the samples were from the same bar.
The researchers think that sharing an experience with another person—even in silence—focuses our attention and causes us to be more aware of what we’re sensing.
“When people think of shared experience, what usually comes to mind is being with close others, such as friends or family, and talking with them,” Boothby said. “We don’t realize the extent to which we are influenced by people around us whom we don’t know and aren’t even communicating with.”
These findings may have impact our multi-tasking social life, too.
“We text friends while at a party, check our Twitter feed while out to dinner, and play Sudoku while watching TV with family—without meaning to, we are unsharing experiences with the people around us,” Boothby said. “A pleasant experience that goes unshared is a missed opportunity to focus on the activity we and others are doing and give it a boost.”