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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    Jul 3 2012: Barry! I am 23, but I asked this because I am ALWAYS the one to talk to people and I often get strange looks, sneers, and the like. I guess I jist want genuine conversation to always be attainable in public because in NY, it is much harder to come by. I am a journalist/writer by trade so it's in my nature to gravitate toward and initiate any interpersonal interactions. I love people, naturally, and understand that being social doesn't come natural to many people, but I posted this as a means to get a plethora of opinions, and I love and appreciate the feedback pouring in from the community. Thanks so much for reaching out -- now, extend a hand/eye/thought to reaching inside yourself and others to bring out their potential.

    As for those who seem upset or tickled by me asking if conversation should be mandatory..I think this digital age has done all of us a disservice. We must feel constantly whole and connected with our gadgets and it leads more and more people to feel less and less like interactions are necessary for happiness -- but, it's been proven that 4 hugs a day makes a most happy camper. I know, I know, don't hug strangers -- you don't know their motives, but friendly conversation can never hurt. Others have said they detest small talk and view talking to people as something hat should come naturally and not be forced, or that they have he luxury to choose whom they strike up a conversation with, and I respect whatever your feelings are, but I know you'll feel better after flashing a smile to a stranger...who knows, it could the love, friend, person with whom your supposed to share life with!

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