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 detest small talk. I detest even more people who try to turn every chance encounter into a social opportunity. When a stranger says "hi" to me in an elevator, I think what they're really saying is "I can't stand to be alone with my own thoughts for 5 minutes, so I want you to entertain me."

    Casual encounters like that are utterly meaningless. The only way to truly connect with people is to talk for more than 2 minutes, about more than just the weather. That requires creating a time and a place for conversation, which is doable but requires more effort than most people are willing to put in. The reason why people "socialize" more and more over the internet is because it requires little effort to do so. I don't think that is a bad thing, since the internet removes many of the biases and inhibitions that plague us in real life.
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      Jun 26 2012: Maybe they plague you and you detest them -- but I really don't. I enjoy them and explore my thoughts and perceptions of society and people through interactions with other people.
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        Jul 11 2012: Men v Women there... Sexuallity exists on a spectrum... but, as linda suggests, men don't like small talk. Men who say they like small talk, are lying to you because they want to have sex with you : )

        Men are introverts and women are extroverts. I'm obviously overstating this and exaggerating a bit, and also... Thank god. I always revert back to Dave Chappelle "If a man could fuck a beautiful woman in a hole in the ground... He wouldn't buy a house". If I met a beautiful woman was down for it, I could totally just chill by a stream with a fishing line, and live in a home made hut.

        That's how society collapses... Women just stop toying with men, and start humping like rabbits : p

        To be fair, I think there are two reasons women love small talk, that make perfect sense. I think you get more information out of it than we do... Women are much better at intuiting personality through body language etc. Men don't get that... we hear about the weather, and it bores us.

        The other reason, is that men are usually unhappy, especially in a poor neighborhood. So when you walk up to them with a smile on your face, and ask them how they're doing... They think "You look happy, why would I bother you with how i'm doing? Move along". Meanwhile if a man walked up to them with a smile on their face "Hey how are ya?", "Bugger Off"... "Alright".

        You're basically just forcing them to pretend everything is okay in front of you. "How are things? Jeez lady... Do you watch the news? They suck". Instead we're polite, we fake a smile and send you on your way.

        Why don't you talk to strangers? Have you read youtube comments? Those the people you really want to introduce into your life? There are some pretty awful human beings out there lol.

        Logic defies extroversion... but it is an absolute necessity that one become engaged in a community, in order to find happiness.

        I don't like anonymity, I'm me here, just as eccentric, honest, and crazy as in real life.
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      Jun 26 2012: Dear Lee,
      On one of the other questions someone is offering free hugs. I would offer you one, but she is way cuter and much younger. Please seek her out. You sound like you need a hug!
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      Jun 26 2012: Lee, I think how you feel is partly due to you being a man as men are not as "chatty" as women nor as social. And again, I say "partly" as there are other factors too, like culture (even though yours is similar to the questioners and these responders), that play a role in how one would reply.
      • Jun 28 2012: I feel this way because I'm an introvert. We all feel this way - we just don't often say so because society thinks that introverted feelings are wrong feelings. But I'm tired of apologizing for the fact that I want my interactions with other people to be meaningful.
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          Jun 29 2012: This is NOT evidence of introversion, sir:
          "Casual encounters like that are utterly meaningless. The only way to truly connect with people is to talk for more than 2 minutes, about more than just the weather. That requires creating a time and a place for conversation, which is doable but requires more effort than most people are willing to put in. The reason why people "socialize" more and more over the internet is because it requires little effort to do so. I don't think that is a bad thing, since the internet removes many of the biases and inhibitions that plague us in real life. "

          Introversion deserves more respect and almost always offers more.

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