One of my bad habits is binge-watching cartoons before bed. I’ll admit it. If I’m not careful, I could lose ninety minutes after “going to bed” watching reruns of King of the Hill, Home Movies, Futurama, or Archer that I’ve already seen countless times. It gets bad.
So I decided last week to end my evenings with a TED talk, and have termed my new ritual #TEDbeforebed.
I will admit openly, I’m not always sold on the idea of TED. It is a great venue for sharing big ideas, but sometimes tends to oversimplify very complicated issues, or reduces them to soundbites that have a hard time translating into action. But that being said, it is a model that is introducing people to knowledge that they might not otherwise seek out themselves. And even if that knowledge only gets used in a fleeting matter, to impress colleagues at a cocktail party or inform an answer given on trivia night, it’s information that I may not be getting from Bobby Hill or Sterling Archer.
So what am I getting from TEDbeforebed so far?
Exploration. While I’m not one to typically reduce myself to my Strengths, my top two are Learner and Input. I LOVE learning and having new information to connect to things I already know. With so many TED talks at my disposal, I can listen to people talk about topics I’m interested in, but may not be sure how to dive into from an academic standpoint. In this instance, I can use the conversation started at TED as a jumping off point to learn more.
Conversation. For some reason, I decided that I would live-tweet the talks I was watching. Why? Maybe it’s the educator in me that likes to share knowledge, or maybe it’s a way of engaging with the content that would allow me to gauge what parts resonated. But in either case, an unexpected side effect of that process has been seeing who is interested in the topics I’m learning about, and starting a dialogue with others. As an example, last night I got to start conversations with several friends and colleagues about the Geoffrey Canada talk I was watching. Chris McCandless said “happiness is only real when shared”; I’ve always felt the same about knowledge. And if TED is truly based in ideas that are worth spreading, I like that my timeline can play a part in that.
Inspiration. Another way I’ve opted to interpret the “ideas worth sharing” tagline of TED is sharing ideas across disciplines. As I watch speakers like Temple Grandin, Reggie Watts, or my roommate’s boss Angela Belcher (a scientist), I wonder “what can I do with this knowledge? How does it apply to me?” I don’t like the knowledge that I gain to exist in isolation. Rather, I want to see what I can do with it, how I can make myself or my work better for what I learn. TED talks have the power to create a spark; sometimes those sparks burn throughout the night, and are fully roaring fires of inspiration by the time I wake up. Those nights are the most fun.
Are you a TED watcher? What have they done for you? Any favorite talks to share? And if you’d like, follow along in the evenings for #TEDbeforebed. I’d love to chat with you about what I’m watching!