TED Conversations

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 26 2012: (Part 2) response to that, I grew up to abhor Americans because of the culture around me that hated it. We are who we are not because we decided to be that way, but because of the arbitrary factors that affected us to make those decisions.

    So where does a human being deserve to be judged contemptuously? I argue never. Ever. Not in greed, not in murder, never.

    That is not to say judgments at all shouldn’t be made. You can say a person’s tall, a person’s short, without having it affect your overall judgment on the person; it is when we believe our judgments are important does it affect our ability to empathize. And I believe no judgment should be important enough to cause such a barrier to empathy. And I think we should be advocating for that more.

    Now this is all not say that people don’t need to feel as though they are responsible for their actions; we do, it is absolutely a needed social construct. But we don’t need contempt.

    And if we were able to change this culture of contempt, I think we would see a large change in stranger-engagement. Although it could also happen the other way around (:

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