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: First, I am not sure totally what you are asking. I thought you had wanted to know generally why we don't talk to each other while out in public or at least acknowledge each other's existence (which really is happening more so due to technology, but you are too young to know any other way ;-)), but then in your second to the last paragraph, you are asking why "we our most painful secrets to strangers in stream-of-consciousness outbursts, but refuse to communicate wholly with the ones closest to us" which is what I don't understand. DO you mean the "strangers" to be those on the net as that is where the true anonymity lies compared to "those closest to us" which I thought you meant in our life, like our friends, or do you mean that we tend to tell those closest standing to us our secrets, which is then this is a totally different question, and really negates the first one.

    So I think I need some help as I seem to off base in my understanding compared to those who are responding.
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      Jun 27 2012: I think this phenomenon is part of what is happening here on TED Linda, don't you? No one in my own day to day life lets me chatter away this way and yet all of you beatiful TEDdies are patient with me and I can tell you how I feel because it is unlikely to change your behaviour towards me. It feels safer and without painful consequences.
      • Jul 3 2012: Speaking strictly for myself, the reason I read all these chatty comments is that I am desperate for interaction, especially with people that are completely outside of my normal context. I seek out the comments of foreigners and am often surprised and somewhat disappointed at how similar they are to us.
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          Jul 3 2012: Where else could i learn of so many other people's earnest thoughts? I think Barry expressed a relevant truth here.

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