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larissa green

junior copywriter, TED

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In an individualistic world where autonomy is a requirement for human-involvement, should conversation be mandatory?

As a 23-year old female, working at TED with amazing people and amongst the greatest of minds, I find that when one introduces themselves to another, our personal walls dissolve rapidly. From watching speakers cheer each other on during auditions, and watching the personal connections develop in such short time, it's almost as beautiful as watching their brain's dendrites connect all sorts of seemingly impossible things during presentations.

However, walking around my neighborhood of South Williamsburg, my soul burns when the eyes of my peers pierce it with their unrivaled fervor of judgement and apathy [that I secretly hope is false.]

Within all of us, young and old, is the drive and will to connect--so why do we give blank stares to the glow of our phone, instead of smiling back at the faces across from us? Why do we put so much weight on assimilating to the standards of others in order to feel accepted?

I want to ask the TED community to start a conversation where we can all be honest about how we generally feel speaking to others in public. Because, as a former journalism student turned creative-writing graduate, I wonder if we would all be happier knowing that everyone we pass by is a potential friend, lover, or soulmate.

We tell our most painful secrets to strangers in stream-of-consciousness outbursts, but refuse to communicate wholly with the ones closest to us. Why?

Why do you choose anonymity or intimacy?

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    Jun 14 2012: To All:

    I apologize if it seemed as though I was projecting my own feelings, but I do want to mention that I really enjoy talking to strangers and not a person goes by without seeing a smile from me. However, I just want to employ the ideas of the TED community to shed light on what would happen if simple humanity was restored in the form of small talk, a smile, a wave, a stare for longer than 3 seconds. I love making new friends, but as I grow older I become scared and nervous from direct observation, of how hard it is to get to know people already in groups. I seek adventures, and love sharing personal stories and experiences, I just am curious as to what happens to people in their past or present that doesn't allow them the joy I get from getting to know the passerby.

    :) Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend!
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      Jun 14 2012: Don't apologize for projecting feelings. We all do it. If you want a world where people talk to each other, smile and wave, DO IT. There is nothing to stop you. But just realize the reserve you see in other people is motivated by something, fear, experience, hurt. So to do what you seek, you will need to develop trust. In all honesty if someone in an urban setting walked up to me and started small talk I would check where my wallet is. Trust is not easy to develop in the three seconds you have.

      But it is worth it. Give it a try. If nothing else you will be known as 'the nice crazy lady in 4B.' I guarantee soon people you see every day will say HI to you first. My husband was like that. Knew all the ladies at the grocers, the bank tellers, the gas station attendants. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. He liked it that way.

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