Christian Long

Derek Sivers: Weird, or Just Different?

In TED Talks on May 5, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Extra credit reflection by HERSH T.

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

Derek Sivers:  Weird, or Just Different?

The topic itself, “Weird, or just different?” induces a sense of curiosity. It actually is a very remarkable topic. However, I did not expect what Mr. Sivers talked about to be the most prevalent examples of this. I think that after having seen so many TED talks I was waiting for some incredible abstruse and abstract idea that would make me think about this topic. I thought that when he finished I would be left thinking about what he said and if he was speaking English. However, Mr. Sivers masterfully utilized incredibly simple examples which kind of threw me off for a second.

Often, simplicity truly is the best policy.

When I first thought of weird vs. different I thought that they were the same word. Different meant something out of the ordinary and weird meant something that is slightly askew or not completely normal. However, weird and different are so much more. Weird, in my experience, often has a slightly positive connotation. In the sense that something that is weird is something that invites further study and/or interest. While different has a negative connotation; it is applied to things that are not normal or make you uncomfortable, things that one usually avoids. However, in this talk, it seems as though Mr. Sivers has reversed this idea.

Different has taken on a new meaning for me.

It can mean something that is just curiously odd. When you are caught off guard by something that leaves you thirsting for more. When you are intrigued by what happens and when you are amazed that someone could think in such a way. All of these are included in my altered sense of different. Mr. Sivers uses examples that could potentially happen to each and every one of us. He uses examples from places that we are aware of, and in fields that we respect and acknowledge. He conveys it in such a way that we smile slightly and lean forward in anticipation. And, most importantly he keeps it short and sweet.

When one uses an example that could potentially happen to any of us, the impact of it resonates in our minds.

Mr. Sivers also touches on another topic which I am intrigued by. He notes that many of the things that we just assume the veracity of, are often not true everywhere. Or, their exact opposite exists and thrives. This struck deeply in my heart because this is a topic which I have thought about many times. What if our assumptions about the world are incorrect? What if, in fact, red meant go in some culture, or no meant yes, or soup is eaten with a fork? This idea is so incredibly marvelous and exciting that it just makes me sit up in my seat. Say there are aliens, then imagine if they came to our planet and saw our societies and what we had created and they were puzzled. Imagine, if we went with them to their planet and they had some incredible different or just weird society and buildings. Wouldn’t that be remarkable?

What I’m saying is that, if when a man from across the earth is confused by what is on this side of the earth, then what kind of race are we? This division of humanity is so incredibly frightening and lends itself to the majority of our wars. Maybe, by identifying our differences and realizing the incredible diversity of our cultures we can be a more unified race. I’m not saying to become one nation with one flag and one goal.

Let us be aware of our world, and the remarkable diversity and richness of culture it offers us. Let us all be different and weird.

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