Groundhog day and the Super Bowl
One way the tribe identifies is through the observance of a holiday, of a group custom, of the thing we all do together that proves we are in sync. People thrive on mass celebration, but as our culture has fragmented, these universal observances are harder to find. We used to watch the same TV shows at the same time, eat the same foods, drive the same car. Given a choice, though, many people take the choice—and so, as the culture fragments, we move away from the center and to the edges.
Halloween and the Super Bowl are the new secular holidays, the group-mania events that prove we're able to stay in sync. Every year, signed up for it or not, each of us is expected to survive the relentless hype. We see almost a month's worth of never-ending media about the Super Bowl—business articles, travel articles, legal articles, cooking articles—a huge onslaught of content-free noise.
And every year, the commercials disappoint, while the game includes eleven minutes of action over the course of four hours of not so much.
And yet we do it again and again. Because the corporate hoopla is beside the real point, which is a chance for all of us to talk about the same thing at the same time. This is part of what it means to belong.
While the Super Bowl is a large-scale example of this happening across a huge swath of people, these occurences happen often in much smaller tribes as well. The buzz about Fashion Week or CES or the latest from Sundance are micro varieties of the same desire to be in sync. Your customers and your employees want to feel what it feels to do what other people are doing. Not everyone, just the people they identify with.
It's easy to be persuaded that this event is somehow about the game, or the coverage or the hype, but it's not. Like Groundhog day, it's a pointless thing we do over and over again, because hanging out with people you care about (even if it's just to eat junk food and talk about how bad the commercials are) is almost always worth doing.