I attended the TEDx event in Adelaide yesterday. And I was deliberately unprepared.
I didn’t read the speakers’ booklet. I didn’t delve into their CVs, visit their websites or try to forecast what they would say. I wanted each speaker to be a surprise as they took the podium, and to be open to insights from worlds I don’t usually delve into. (Host and event organiser Kristin Alford helped with this – her pithy intros allowed the speakers to set the scene for themselves).
So on this brilliant Saturday (instead of doing the laundry or tidying the house or taking my nanna nap), I was treated to a virtual rendition of Farmers Union Iced Coffee, amazed by the DNA of the platypus, moved by black and white photographs of cheeky little brothers in Palestine, and heartened by an explorer’s work in moving electricity retailers away from fossil fuels.
One of the talks that I want to delve into was by Jodie Benveniste who championed the role of parents and pointed out how competitive parenthood can be. There’s immense pressure to have perfect children and to be the perfect parent. I agree – but I don’t think this competitive nature is restricted to parenthood. New parenthood merely puts it into focus for us.
By nature, human beings are competitive and (at the risk raising the eyebrows of Byron Sharp with an anecdotal ‘gut feeling’ that I’m about to elaborate on) I posit that being competitive is part of our survival instinct.
Theory: I want to be the best at my job, I want a promotion first, I want the best car park, the nicest house in the street, the best retirement plan … because these things assure my comfort, my family’s comfort, our status and safety into the future.
In today’s consumer-driven society, a drive for survival and desire to thrive, has morphed into “I want the newest Nike sneakers, the latest Apple iPod; I want to be first on my block with a 3D television and my spray tan needs to be more realistic than Cindy’s”.
The segue was a recurring theme yesterday, so I’ll jump onto the bandwagon and attempt a segue here. This urge for competition – driven by consumerism and people who clearly have too much money – is one of the reasons why (as Carla Litchfield told us), some people are paying a high price for gorilla flesh. Yes, they want to eat blackmarket ape.
Is this the same Competition + Consumer creating the bland modern suburbs that are spreading like a virus over the planet and taking away public spaces where young people used to congregate (as outlined by Dr Ianto Ware)? Is this Competition + Consumerism responsible for our water supplies drying up while we create ever-increasingly more effective ways to rape the soil and very few ways for how to maintain and improve it (more eloquently outlined by Mark Tester)?
The mantra of the official TED conferences are ‘ideas worth spreading’. The speakers in Adelaide yesterday didn’t disappoint – they had ideas worth spreading.
Whether the audience agreed with the ideas or found them ‘worthy’ doesn’t matter. What matters is that we gathered (many of us strangers) to meet with people we might ordinarily never come across.
Speaker Wend Lear urged us to acknowledge our own ‘gift’ because everyone has one, but seldom makes the most out of it by sharing it with others. The gift of TedX Adelaide was to remind us that ideas exist, they don’t dry up, we can have an idea at any stage of our lives, and even every day. There are not a finite number of ideas.
Ideas are important and they can help us change direction into futures that are exciting as tribal drumbeats on a Saturday afternoon.
There’s a wealth of information on the official TEDx Adelaide website http://tedxadelaide.com/ , if you’d like to absorb the day yourself. This includes speaker bios, photographs, podcasts and very soon, video footage of the event.
If you’re interested in TED (technology, entertainment, design) and its origins, see the official website here http://www.ted.com/