Christian Long

Jonathon Harris: Collects Stories

In TED Talks on May 5, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Reflection by MEIGHAN A.

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

Jonathon Harris: Collects Stories

Jonathan Harris’s stories from around the world are deep and full of potential to become something greater if we all decided to take an interest in each other’s lives. Stories connect us to each other. People love to tell stories and love to listen them, what better way to connect our lives than stories?

The journals he kept as reminders and glimpses into peoples lives grew into his We Feel Fine. We Feel Fine is an ingenious way to know more about other people’s experiences and catch glimpses of other’s lives. However, in my opinions it is somewhat odd and creepy to be following other people’s lives without their knowing it. The intellectual side of We Feel Fine is very interesting and the idea of sharing bits and pieces of our lives and feelings on such a large scale is intriguing. Perhaps if there was more trust and honesty between people we could share information about ourselves with others without fear of it being used against us in some way.

The whale Hunt was a very different type of story; he used technology only as a presentation medium. This story is very different because it is a completed chapter of the Eskimo’s lives that he is sharing a role in. This story does more for the world than We Feel Fine because it demonstrates culture and things we don’t usually know about. It reaches out into the world and brings back something for us to learn from. The idea of a photographic heartbeat was exceptional; it helps bring a human element and feeling to the story itself and how it is viewed beyond its characters.

My favorite story he shares is of the balloons in Bhutan. I admire that they base their government decisions on the concept of gross national happiness. I wish all decisions were based on this everywhere. Rating happiness is absurd as he said, but it is curious to try to represent our levels of happiness. The balloons are a fun way that I think adds to our happiness just holding them. Making a wish and writing it on a balloon is a fun way to make wishes and also by using his photography he can share the wishes of people far away from us, with us. I think it is very important that he took pictures of peoples hands, hands do tell a lot about people and their culture. On top of this it is just fascinating to see how our hands would change if we were in their shoes. Some of the people’s wishes are so strikingly different from anything we would say, but they show us how different our lives are.

I think it is lovely that he had the wishing balloons set up with the prayer flags. They are amazing reminders of people’s lives to anyone passing through Dochula. It’s always good to keep other people’s lives in mind. We tend to forget any one’s story but our own, it’s good for us to share lives every once in a while.

Hearing other people’s stories also helps make us grateful for what we have, and allows us to empathize, whereas before we couldn’t, since we weren’t even aware of these people’s existences.

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