In a time of intense division, it’s more important than ever to remember that we have more in common with each other than we might think. In a Danish ad that’s gone viral, people learn to “unbox” each other from stereotypes that hold them apart. It’s easy to focus on all of the lines that separate people from each other, but, as this ad shows, by simply shifting our lens, we can see meaningful connections that tie us together.
The ad, called “All That We Share,” was produced by TV2 Denmark. It begins with groups of people entering a room and standing in their own “boxes.” The groups are separated according to “type”: There are people from the country, and people from the city; there are what the narrator describes as “New Danes” and “those who’ve always been here”; there are “high earners” and “those just getting by.” But when the groups are asked to respond to some questions, the boundaries of the different boxes start to break apart.
“Who in this room was the class clown?”, the moderator asks. Men and women from around the room walk forward and gather into a new box. The moderator continues, “Who are stepparents?” A new box of people forms. As the questions continue, new configurations develop, bringing together people from every “box” in the room.
Some of the questions are lighthearted, like “Who loves to dance?” (It turns out that the answer is “A lot of people.”)
As the video continues, the identifiers get more personal. “We who are brokenhearted,” the narrator describes. “… We who feel lonely.”
At the end, everyone hugs. (And, if my reaction is anything to go by, all the viewers are crying.)
The division and conflict that seem so prevalent in the world right now are based in complex issues that won’t be solved by simple social experiments like this one. This video is a good reminder, however, of how important it is to look beyond labels, appearances, and our own assumptions when it comes to other people. If we seek commonality, rather than difference, we’re likely to find it.