The Share Tingles, or Why Almost NOTHING is Better Alone
MUSIC is not a GENRE - Season 4 Episode #13
ALL ABOUT IT
NICK – “Your Sweetness” (from Your EP)
REC - "Break You" (from Parts and Labour)
You know the feeling when you’re listening to a song for the first time and it gets to a place - a climax, a drop after a breakdown, a soaring melody, shining harmonies, or a beat that you can’t ignore - that makes your body respond? You might feel butterflies or goosebumps or the need to move. It might stop you from breathing for a second, or compel you to sing along or shout or scream uncontrollably. You might cry, or laugh in utter surprise. You forget everything but the moment you’re in. Whatever it is, it’s as if the song is inside you, flowing with your blood, leaping with your synapses, and you can’t stop your reaction even if you wanted to.
The next time you hear the song, you know that moment is coming. The anticipation sends tingles of electricity through you, which builds in intensity until the moment hits and you explode. It’s even stronger than the first time. You know from then on you can count on that song to wipe out any other thought or feeling, and transport you to transcendent bliss.
After a while, that feeling diminishes. Maybe you’ve heard the song too many times, or too often in a short span. Or maybe it’s just that you know it so well that the feeling is more a memory than a full on rush. You’ll always love the song, but it won’t ever have the same effect on you.
Or will it? Think of that song again. Now imagine you’re talking to someone who it turns out has the same musical taste as you. You find out they’ve never heard the song, and your breath stops for a second and so does time. The only thing you can do next is play that song for them. You imagine being in their place - totally unaware of what’s about to happen. They can feel your excitement, hear it in your voice. So they’re prone to experiencing the song with open ears and an open heart. And you’re prone to hearing it the way they will hear it - for the first time.
The moment comes, and because you’re hearing the song through their ears, something amazing happens. That overwhelming feeling you thought would never return comes back stronger than ever. It may as well be your first time too. Your friend is right there too, and both of your feelings converge and grow into something bigger than any individual feeling could ever be. It makes you want to share this song with every other likeminded person, so you can spread the joy and feel it all over again yourself.
I call this feeling the “share tingles”, and it happens all the time. It’s what gives music near eternal life. Self-replenishing power. Those mega impact moments in a song or any great work pass on their feelings through everyone who hears them, and the power is multiplied exponentially. You don’t even need to know the person. You could even be in a crowd of strangers. Just being with others who are feeling what you are reawakens everything you ever felt. It’s why even though live music is rarely sonically better than recorded music, the experience of it can be far superior. It’s why great DJs are shamans. It’s why radio still exists.
No individual, isolated feeling can ever match the level of one shared. Feeling something personal and private is human nature. Being able to rekindle that feeling and surpass it is miraculous. More than that, it’s the essence of existence. We’re at a point in society when individualism is prized far and above over collectivism. When our prevalent version of connecting with others is digital, aphysical, and often only partly rooted in reality. Our shared experiences have been micro-curated to create the smallest measure of connection, one that dissipates almost as soon as it’s done. In fact, most of what we call “sharing” is usually one-way. Whether online or in real life, we talk at each other - stating how we feel or what we think, and rarely leave a statement open-ended enough to allow for true conversation and connection. We convince ourselves we’re satisfied with speaking our minds, and don’t need feedback or any meaningful exchange. We pretend to be sure of ourselves when all we are is afraid. Of ourselves and each other.
This goes a long way toward explaining why our culture is in the state it’s in. What passes for compassion for others these days is the bare minimum of care, and often not even that. What passes for dialogue is as good as two stereo speakers playing two different songs and drowning out each other. The more we believe that protecting our individualism is the safest bet, the more our society erodes and the more danger we create for everyone.
Fortunately, society grows in cycles. We’ve been here before - and much worse. We’ll be here again, hopefully not quite as bad. And in between we’ll swing back to collectivism, hopefully even stronger than the last time. We’re seeing fits and starts of that swing back now. Forces in our culture trying to get enough of us to care about each other, to treat each other with more respect and compassion. The individualists are fighting back loudly, which is why it often seems like things are worse. But it’s just death throes and growing pains. We’ll get there. Because those share tingles work for ideas too. It’s how progress happens. We pass them on, feel them together, and they grow beyond what any one person could do.