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: I think that this phenomenon is not just something that happens with our neighbours. I'm sure we have all been in te situation of being in the same room as someone that you "kind of know", the friend of a friend that you met at a party. You look at them and they look at you but you aren't 100% sure of their name and they can't remember where they met you. So you both stand awkwardly in the room and the tension mounts until you can never say "hello". We paralyse the possibility of friendship because we fear looking foolish. I think the same is true of our neighbours. We all know that we should know them better and everyone of us is a little embarrassed that we don't.

    At a conference nobody is expected to know everybody else and so there is no tension. The total ignorance means that we feel happy to talk. However, transport yourself a few months from the conference and imagine you see a man on the tube. Is it Dave? ... or was it Simon?.... he isn't looking at you so perhaps you've got the wrong person entirely...
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      Jun 26 2012: Nice point Thomas, sometimes there is safety in anonymity. I wonder why? No expectations?

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