10 Jun 2014

My 6 Minute Experience

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By Allison Graham on June 9, 2014

Speaking last Thursday evening with a group of some of the top minds in Dallas proved to be a bit more intimidating than I initially realized. Firstly, all of the speakers were such titans in their fields and all had a firm grasp on their topics with several others presenting their ‘talk’ on multiple occasions at other opportunities.

I arrived at the venue a few minutes late, wanting to tweak the last few slides I had before I left the house. I raced into the venue with my USB and nerves gripped tightly in my hand and saw a good-sized crowd milling about. I introduced myself to several of the other presenters. I knew who some of them were because I took the time to research who I would be competing against. I stopped researching after the 5th person when I realized the entrants were some of the best in their respective fields and I wanted to keep my anxiety at a 3 instead of a 10.

As my nerves began to start to tingle and make an attempt to fray I grabbed a glass of wine to keep true to Heather’s main message which was, “to have a good time.” Having some restraint I stuck to the one glass of wine and started to mingle with the crowd before the event started. It was clear that the people in attendance were an incredibly interesting group with various backgrounds and passions.

It seemed, even the audience was packed with a celebrity crowd which activated the part of my mind starving for interesting and cultured people who just so happen to be incredibly friendly and generally excited to be a part of this event.

I was in the second group after the intermission so I had the benefit of listening to some pretty incredible speakers – masters of their ‘talk’. As each speaker made their case and sat down I felt the countdown to my turn.

Finally I got the tap on my shoulder to come on down and get the microphone. ‘Damn’ I thought to myself, I have to hold a microphone and a PowerPoint clicker. As PowerPoint is not my typical means of media, I was nervous I had to literally do two things at the same time – hold a microphone and click to the next slide. I took a deep breath, at least I didn’t have to carry a cafeteria tray – I am notorious for always dropping those when I least expect it.

My turn came to climb the stairs after I was so kindly introduced and the show was on. I chose to speak about a topic that seems to strike a cord with many people – regardless of age, “Social Media Makes Us Unsocial”. The general premise is that the overuse of various social media sites disconnects us from each other and the physical connections we once shared in person. Sparked by my continued notice of families going out to dinner each with their own headphones or distraction device got me to thinking. Are we so disinterested in one another we are isolating even the basic form of human connection which is family?

Narcissism is a plague that is preying on the insecure and we now find 2 generations that have never known a life without a cell phone or some instant connection to a world they may be physically in but mentally gone. No one is looking up and paying attention to the fascinating world around them. Want to know what the stars look like? Instead of looking up, we have an app for that.

Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Vining, Selfies, where is all of this taking us? We have a false sense of connection because we get constant pinging updates when someone posts something or we join a movement online by ‘liking’ them on Facebook but what are we really doing?

We are mad as hell at so many things but are we marching in the streets? Do we gather in crowds and by our sheer physical numbers make a difference? What are we really doing about any of it? Nothing. We no longer gather in the streets – we click buttons on pages and think somehow that means something.

Participating in TEDxSMU was the best thing I have ever done in my life. I felt electrified by the supportive audience and was humbled to have several people come up to me after the event to share their own social media story about their kids or their life. I was even more humbled when one of the presenters came up to me in the voting section to tell me he voted for me.

Certainly not expecting to win (shared win!) I was quite surprised when they called my name to step out. It was so exhilarating – nothing I have ever felt before.

I knew then and there that come November 1st I would have a presentation that will resonate with many audiences of all ages and raise awareness to explore changes we can implement together to keep us connected in person rather than by screens. In a large sense – use social media to make us personally social, find events that connect us in a real physical sense and not through a Facebook Avatar and impersonal electronic feeds.

I am looking forward most in November to give a real live TEDx Talk and consolidate a message that everyone can relate to and everyone can enjoy. I am excited to speak about Social Self Validation and a more in-depth overview of the social media phenomena and what it is doing to dissolve our connection to one another while making us think the complete opposite.

Having been a key creator of The Blair Witch Marketing Campaign, I know how easy it is to manipulate a global population but I had no idea – just 15 years later – how much we would all be sucked into the screens and away from each other.


Link my buddy Alex said I could use but realized I didn’t have enough time in 6 minutes – it was on Time Magazines website but sums up my topic extremely well:

This YouTube video I saw tonight:

I had not seen the last video link until tonight but am shocked to see 42M hits. I knew I had a topic I felt passionate about but it seems I am not alone – on a global scale.

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