Not even TED can compete with digital

Recently, I witnessed a really curious behaviour. It’s two modern trends in one: ‘I share therefore I am‘ meets ‘digital distraction’.

It happened at the TEDxTeen event, in London, on 11th October 2014. It was, by all accounts, a great event – inspirational stories, and great speakers and performances.


Some in the audience were, mostly, experiencing the event through their screens. They recorded key moments and promptly shared them with the world outside, via social media. A clear example of the ‘I share therefore I am’ phenomenon, described by Sherry Turkle here.

In turn, others were, occasionally, distracted by the world outside. Even the great speakers and the fantastic content in that room could not compete with the constant stimulation and validation of the digital world. Digital distraction is not new, of course – for instance, it has been documented in classrooms.

But these kids, here, managed to do both: the kid on the right is recording the moment (look at the top right hand corner), yet his attention is completely absorbed by what is happening on the screen of the kid next to him (look at the bottom left part of the picture).


There was so much going on in that stage and, yet, for these kids it was all about the screens.

I wonder what will happen when this generation gets to university.

When I was in college, the only thing I might share from a class was the handout, if the teacher provided one. And the only outside distractions were those happening immediately outside of the window. This generation, though, experiences the world, and acquires information, in a completely different way. If I am still in academia by the time they reach university, I will need to dramatically change how I communicate with them. Tips???

2 thoughts on “Not even TED can compete with digital

  1. Tips… go analogue, take them away in a canvas bell tent, go off grid, walk them in the hills for 5 hours (by then their phone batteries will be dead) and then make them soup while they look into the flames of the camp fire. Then begin…

    “So the Four P’s….”



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