Sunday, March 1, 2015

TED Talks

Have you noticed something spreading?

Nope, it’s not the measles.

It’s the proliferation of TED Talks here, there, and everywhere. As well as that sentence, snuggled between the bizspeak and the chitchat: “Did you see that amazing TED Talk?”

When the TED conference series was launched in 1990, I loved the idea of talks on technology, entertainment and design, but like New Yorker cartoons, I didn’t know if they were for me. They were heady and mind-blowing, and catnip to the NPR totebag-carrying, interesting eyewear-wearing crowd. These video vitamins were good for me but sometimes hard to swallow.

Then TEDx happened. Community-organized talks sprouted up everywhere and I couldn’t keep up. I can barely stay abreast of This American Life episodes, WTF podcasts, and all the shit queued up on my DVR, what with my job and all. How am I going to find time to watch 10- to 20-minute videos on how to use a paper towel and bands that make their instruments out of vegetables?

Does every cul de sac have ideas worth spreading, or more importantly, ideas worth my time? I’m thinking no.

For every Brené Brown talk that truly changes your thinking, there’s a talk about the importance of ticking off your bucket list items. Nice idea, but I can listen to a Tim McGraw song for that, and that only takes 4:27 of my life, allowing me to step away from my laptop and toward actual bucket list activities.

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