Christian Long

Derek Sivers: Weird or Just Different?

In TED Talks on April 18, 2010 at 9:46 am

Reflection by ANGELA W.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Derek Sivers: Weird or Just Different?

Derek Sivers proposes a striking argument in his TED talk: “Weird, or Just Different?”

Everything we do, we consider to be the ‘norm’. In America, we do some things different than the rest of the world, like the metric system. While we consider the metric system to be normal, the rest of the world considers it different. Human nature makes us be judgmental and as soon as something seems different or out of place, we think of it as weird or wrong. People need to take a step back and realize the rest of the world is not just like them. The different things every continent, country, state, or city do makes the world unique and it should be respected… in a perfect world.

Derek’s first example of the differences of culture is about the naming of streets and blocks.

In America, our streets have names where our blocks do not but in Japan there blocks are numbered and there is not street names. If and American went to Japan and asked what is the name of a street and to find out there is not a name, would confuse the person greatly. What the person is not realizing is that if a person from Japan went to America and wanted to know the number of the block, they would be just as confused. Just because something is the opposite of what you do, does not mean it is wrong; to other people it is their way of life.

Another example Derek presents is that the houses in Japan are numbered in the order they were built, not the order the houses go in.

Derek says. “I love that sometimes we need to go to the opposite side of the world to realize assumptions we didn’t even know we had and realize the opposite of them may also be true.” Instead of going to the opposite side of the world to realize these things, we should just realize them on their own, but people are just so caught up in how they live their life, they never have time to realize someone else is living life the total opposite… and their way of life is true.

Doctor’s in America get paid to help people when they are sick, but doctors in China get paid when people are healthy. The doctors in China believe it is their job to make sure a person is healthy and when they are, the doctor gets paid. This concept can seem so odd to someone in America, but to someone in China it makes total sense.


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