On the 22nd of March, Richmond University held its first-ever TEDX event at the University of Notre Dame. The vast number of students and staff, which also consisted of student volunteers, signaled the significance of the event to the university’s community. The premise of the event proved to be re-invention in a world that, fuelled by constant technological advancement, proceeds at a rapid pace. Where competition is heightened by the widening reach of connectivity, what steps must we take to ensure our success? A mixed group of speakers, consisting of current Richmond students, alumni and experts came together to discuss the scientific and social implications of self-improvement as a means of survival.
The event commenced with Tala Ammoun’s discussion regarding the role of technology, notably social media in our lives as members of the millennial generation. In a world where an “acceptable” social media profile provides a gateway to employment, misleadingly perfect cyber-identities are formed. To render the topic even more relevant to contemporary youth, Tala explained her introversion and how she believes introverts are much more conscious of the impressions they give on social media. She encouraged the audience to acknowledge their traits, forgive themselves for past missteps and give themselves room to be creative both for boosting career prospects and wellbeing. With assignments and, for some, graduation around the corner, it served as a glimmer of hope to the anxious university student.
Neuroscientist Dr. Kate Jeffery followed with her insights on the effects of technology on our spatial awareness. Prior to this, an exercise was carried out: each person received a card at the entrance stating whether they found the location of the event through instincts or mapping software like Google Maps. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many picked the latter. This lack of trust in our instincts, Dr. Jeffery argued, caused us to become more and more alienated from the city and thus hinder our spatial awareness.
On that note, Evan Falstrup discussed the possibilities brought by genetic modification. The audience was enlightened to the possibility of enhancing certain aspects of their brain to realize their potential in certain areas. Evan speculated: what if we could, for instance, improve our skills in a specific language through neural enhancement? But on the other side, if everyone used these modifications, wouldn’t we end up all the same? The complexity of humans would erode over time and there would hardly be any basis for communication. The talk, therefore, served as another reminder that everyone’s skillset was different – at least that was my take on it. Carl Miller’s talk on cybercrime and the ethical implications of the Internet proved similarly dystopic yet enlightening.
Peter Kash followed with a reminder to be a social capitalist, followed by the message of perseverance shared by the subsequent speech by former Richmond student Henrik Friis. Giving anecdotes from his personal life in relation to love, business, and war, Henrik argued that constant perseverance, especially during the moments where it seemed like it wouldn’t eventually bear its fruits. Dr. Linda Friedland similarly emphasized that stress, despite being a natural factor of our lives should only be around when needed.
Overall, the event not only proved a landmark for Richmond University and its Student Government but reminded audiences young and old of the importance of moral and technological re-invention in an ever-evolving world.