Seven members of the Tufts community spoke on a variety of topics, ranging from hookup culture to doublethink, at the third Tufts Idea Exchange (TEX) in Cabot Auditorium on Tuesday night, as part of the Institute for Global Leadership’s Synaptic Scholars Program and OneWorld.
The TEX program, which began in the 2010-2011 school year, originated from Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED), global conferences where prominent figures discuss their ideas in 18-minute speeches. TED has attracted speakers from a wide range of fields, including musician Bono and author Malcolm Gladwell.
At this semester’s TEX event, Lecturer of Music David Coleman kicked off the night with his speech, “Words that Work.” Coleman highlighted the effects that words can have on an individual in a discussion of 10 phrases that have resonated throughout his life.
“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but bones can heal,” Coleman said. “Words can have a powerful effect.”
From “Papa’s home!” to “more time to do something is more time to do nothing,” Coleman said that each phrase made a lasting impact on his life because it was easy to remember, he associated it with a specific action and the person made eye contact with him when he or she said it.
After Coleman concluded his talk, senior Rameen Aryanpur, explained the notion of a quantified self. Rather than tell a doctor how many hours of sleep you get per night, Aryanpur suggested that people shared this, and other more private information like it, on the Internet, to understand how it compares to others’ data.
“Without observation, you can’t improve,” Aryanpur said. “Other people can see in us what we can’t in ourselves.”
As people gather this data, they’ll be able to predict long term effects of certain actions, like the correlation between amount of sleep someone gets and how much coffee they drink, Aryanpur explained.
“Technology is at its best when it’s helping people,” he said.
Next, in a talk that combined the influence of words with that of technology, Gordon Institute professor Partha Ghosh explored what he thinks the next “-ism” will be: “celluarism.” As socialism and communism defined the Cold War, Ghosh explained that celluarism would define this era, as towns will serve as their own centers instead of major cities.
“We want instant solutions to long range problems,” Ghosh said. “But we have to learn how to put society ahead of self. This is an opportunity to think of what is the next unknown.”
Sophomore Allison Harrington spoke about the hookup culture that has become a fixture on college campuses. Although she noted the benefits of these moments of passion, Harrington emphasized the importance of communication in these casual relationships.
“The hookup culture we’re living in now is just unclear,” Harrington said. “Romance, love, sex, relationships; no one ever said it was easy. But hooking up without talking about it, that just sucks.”
In her discussion, Harrington featured information from a survey of college students to try to understand how 18- to 21-year-olds perceive these scenarios.
Following Harrington, senior Dan Rosenblum, investigated why humans often confuse how they feel with what they think, in his speech titled “Moral Doublethink.”
“Our emotions about personal versus impersonal situations are a good case of doublethink,” Rosenblum said. “We have to realize that there’s a big gulf between morality, what we feel we should do, and psychology, what we think we can do.”
For graduate student Jacqueline Gonzalez, though, humans should almost always be thinking in creative ways.
“We need to strip the fluff from creativity in order to know what it is,” Gonzalez said. “A creative staff isn’t only nice for a business, it’s necessary for its survival. Risks are inherent for creativity.”
In addition to creativity, Elizabeth Herman (A ’10) concluded TEX by emphasizing the importance of thinking critically in every facet of life. Beyond situations in which students have to adjust to a new environment, Herman said people should push themselves to examine each aspect of life.
“Find ways to think critically even when it doesn’t seem immediately necessary,” Herman said. “What’s important is that we have these skills within us. It’s about constantly asking questions.”