Last night, as we watched Madonna’s halftime show conclude at our super bowl gathering with friends, we had the discussion that was happening everywhere around America: was it a good or bad halftime show?
My friend Joe, who had pulled out his phone, was checking the pulse of the masses by way of Twitter and Facebook chatter. His conclusion, “Well, it’s either the greatest or the worst halftime show in history.” It seems that the opinion on the performance was completely split.
While there’s nothing terribly shocking about the split decision regarding a superbowl halftime show, I think it reveals the power of expectations in how we judge the quality or value of something. For example, I saw several Facebook posts that took issue with the fact that Madonna appeared to be lip synching during her performance. This fact, for those people, was a violation of what they expected. I, on the other hand, have come to expect for a performance like this at halftime of the superbowl that there will probably be some lip synching going on. If she hadn’t been lip synching, I would have been super impressed. So, the fact that Madonna was lip synching didn’t impact my experience of her performance. Different expectations, very different judgments.
For the record, I liked the halftime show. I was particularly amazed by the use of technology and the overall showmanship of the performance. But, that’s not the point.
I think the strong reactions to this event is a quick reminder to pay close attention to our expectations about situations and people. Both opinions about the halftime show are correct. Depending on your expectations of a halftime show and your musical preferences, that could have been the best or the worst halftime show ever. Our expectations define how we experience the world around us. Choose them wisely.