Psychologist's view: How to get over the games
Monday 13 August 2012
The French social theorist Emile Durkheim coined the term "effervescence" to describe the experience of collective events. It is a term that well describes the fizzing excitement of the past two weeks. That excitement largely derives from our relationship with the medal-bedecked Team GB – each medallist's story connects to our own experiences of hardship and carries the hope of redemption.
But it also derives from our relationship to each other. As we scream Mo Farah towards gold, we imagine millions in their homes doing the same. This "imagined community" becomes real when we feel able to talk to strangers the next day in the bus queue. We can say, "Wasn't it wonderful?", on the basis that they will understand, reciprocate and validate our feelings. In short, we develop a shared identity.
But what will endure, beyond an inchoate warm glow? It may be true that, when it comes to watching sport, we feel that we are all in it together. But will that be true when we return to mundane social and economic realities? The track record isn't good.
The more the Olympics becomes a symbol of what is good about Britain, the more we see arguments about the meaning of the Olympics as a means of defining national identity and national priorities. In the end, that is likely to be the true legacy of these Games.
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
World Cup 2014: Football Manager developers predict the team of the tournament - but which England player makes it into the XI?
Roy Keane omits Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs from 'greatest' Manchester United team
Man cycles down water slide in incredible stunt video
Napoli 2 Arsenal 0 match report: Nightmare in Naples leaves Arsenal to battle giants
Transfer news: Wayne Rooney sparks Manchester United exit rumours after rejecting new contract talks - reports
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute
- 2 It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics
- 3 John McAfee's $100 'anti-NSA' device: 'this is coming and cannot be stopped'
- 4 Is Facebook making us forget? Study shows that taking pictures ruin memories
- 5 Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding