Flipside. It’s an ambiguous theme. But TEDx Auckland is renowned for delivering a quality experience and an impressive line-up of of diverse thinkers and doers, so I was excited to see what was in store this year. As I scrolled through the list of speakers, I was greeted with some familiar faces, but I was most excited to hear the stories of people I was yet to meet.
In true TEDx Auckland style, each speaker had been perfectly prepared for this moment. Their speeches had been rehearsed, refined and rehearsed again. Every word was exactly where it should be. Each inflection in tone, every breath, every pause was weighted with conviction. Each presentation was delivered to the exact standard, and mesmerising rhythm of a quintessential ‘TED Talk’.
While the stories shared all carried their own messages, lessons and ideas, it was the perfection of their delivery that I found most distracting. I found it hard to see their differences. They were all presented by educated individuals. People with jobs, cars, homes, and very full lives. People who talk about making the world better. People who love to keep learning. People like me.
Their ideas were powerful. I nodded my head a lot. I agreed with statements made. I embraced the encouragements to think more about this, and care more about that. But it all felt so familiar. So expected.
And then, Michael Moka - one of the speakers, he named it - the thing that was irking me. This was not a room full of diversity of thought. We may be different ages, genders, races, cultures and abilities. But we were all part of the same TED Tribe. We were all there to expand our thinking. We were all there to figure out how to do more with our lives. We were all hungry to connect with people, with ideas, and with the world around us.
It was refreshingly uncomfortable to hear his words. To recognise that even as a self-proclaimed champion of diversity, I was still in the company of sameness. My own thinking wasn’t being challenged - and perhaps for me, this was the flipside of diversity.
It wasn’t the experience that I expected to walk away with, but the lesson will stay with me. TEDx Auckland was a reminder to recognise when I’m inside my own echo-chamber (as wonderful as it is there!) and to keep looking outside of it to experience true diversity of thought.
Thanks to all of the people who put time and energy into sharing your idea at TED, and to the whole crew behind it. It was, as always, a special experience. And it’s heartening to see how many people want to have conversations about things that will make our time on this blue marble more meaningful.
I’d recommend watching all of the talks online, but particularly these talks that did bend my thinking, move me or make me smile:
Jess Holly Bates
Modern Maori Quartet
Looking forward to next year!