According to research, live events can be a breeding house for germs, come with the risk of stampedes and heat stroke, and lead people to undertake risky behaviours like unprotected sex and drinking alcohol. Nevertheless, people yearn to attend live events, despite our increasing awareness of the risks of live events. The question is, “Why?” Why do we crave live events despite the risks? What benefits do live events give us that make it worthwhile to assume the risks? In this article, we will tackle those questions.
One of the most primitive desires is the desire for connection, for a sense of belonging. This stems from our ancient past. As we evolved and developed our primitive societies, humanity found itself at odds with vastly stronger, more numerous and more violent animals. The only way to survive in this brutish world was to cooperate, to build bridges of trust and work together. The desire for communion was a natural response to the need to survive in a world in which humanity was outmatched. Singing in church, dancing at a concert, doing the Mexican wave during a sports game, these are some of the many ways that people seek to feel connected with each other. We may attend live events because we like a particular artist, or sports team, or because we believe sincerely in the ceremony we are partaking in, yet, there’s nothing stopping us from watching music videos at home, or supporting our favourite team from the comfort of our couch or praying in our living rooms. The reason we attend live events goes beyond what we are going to see or listen to or partake in. It’s about doing that with other people. Live events provide a sense of connection that eases feelings of loneliness, brings meaning to our lives, makes us happy and tranquil, lifts depression and soothes feelings of anxiety.
Another benefit of live events is that they bolster our identity. Being with people who believe as you believe, love as you love and want what you want, reinforces our identity. It is grounding. It makes life seem more purposeful and places us somewhere in life. In live events, a person loses their sense of self, their personal identity becomes one with the group identity and people stop thinking in terms of “I” and “them” and in terms of “us”. That is pretty heady stuff. It’s very empowering. Strong identification with other people during live events has been found to improve mental health.
Visiting the top event venues can add a dose of novelty to your life that would otherwise be missing. Even before the global health crisis began, many people often found that much of their lives was spent in drudgery. They were bored, fed on routine, getting very little novelty in their lives. The pandemic only made things worse. Yet, when people attend live events, they experience a sense of novelty that makes live events very precious for attendees. It’s for this reason that the French sociologist, Emile Durkheim spoke about the “collective effervescence” brought about by the combination of specialness and connection.