Me and TED

February 25th, 2009

Everyone and their cat has recommended, praised and pushed on me the TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.  Not one of my favorite books, but I figure this talk must be incredible to have garnered so much adulation–and only adulation can describe the comments filled with lots and lots of exclamation marks.  It was interesting, but it also made me feel squirmy, the way so many TED talks do. I love them and I hate them. Because I always feel like the fat girl sitting by herself in the school lunchroom. Everyone speaking has been anointed a Big Thinker just by virtue of being on stage, and everyone attending is a genius by proxy simply by being part of the audience. I know I would feel insufferably hip if I could afford to go to TED and I would never turn down a ticket if I had $4,000 extra dollars, so maybe I’m just jealous. Green with envy that I didn’t write a bestseller, green with envy of the cool kids in the class, green with envy that I don’t have a single Big Idea. Don’t get me wrong–I love TED talks. They make me think and aspire and be inspired, and it’s great that they’re posted online FREE–but they also make me feel like I’m on the outside looking in. And I’m not sure that’s always a bad thing.

4 Responses to “Me and TED”

  1. Jane says:

    Freida, I’ve also been inspired by one or two TED talks, but I have a problem with the elitism of the event. The cost is one issue – and last I heard it’s now 5K – but I also take issue with the fact that it is the “elites” who are offered a chance to speak.

    Our society makes much over who succeeds, and the collective definition of both success and genius is — who is the most well-known? Who has the most money?

    A recent Time magazine article recently rewrote the definition of genius, excluding from their consideration anyone who had not published many papers in their field, etc.

    There is a vast world of difference between genius and recognition/celebrity. I feel that so much genius is lost, from pre-school to old age, due to inherent classism, lack of opportunity, and even lack of charisma. Yet under Time’s new definition, Dr. Oz from oprah is more of a genius than the quiet, talented brain surgeon who is not motivated by recognition but by craft.

    I ramble. Just happy to be able to comment again!

  2. Jane says:

    Haahhhaa…I called you Freida. Not even Frida. I’m fried on Sat. morning.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Nikki, YOU can write a bestseller! What are you waiting for?

  4. kris says:

    yeah, i don’t want to credit that mediocre, self serving book to this lovely woman, Elizabeth Gilbert. i say it was the genius gnome that lives in the shed back behind her house.

    also, i wonder if TED requires speakers to wear black turtlenecks…

    i’m with ya sistah on this one. they speak like it’s a new age church…but i’ve always felt that new age churches were made specifically for people that work in technology, entertainment and/or design. marianne williamsen started it all.

    i’m still the dorky kid in the back row wearing the hand me down clothes and in need of a haircut.