I'm a Parent With Ted Talk FOMO

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I’ve had “Watch Ted Talks” on my to-do list for the past eight years. I cut and paste this directive into my agenda from week to week, year to year, in hopes that this week, this year, I’ll find the time to watch them.

But the truth is Ted Talks overwhelm me. There are so many of them and they cover such a wide range of topics— from the power of introverts, to the gifts of imperfection. Each one is worthy of my time. Each one will make me a better person. So why don’t I just start watching Ted Talks? Because if I start watching Ted Talks, I’m afraid I’ll never stop.

Ted Talks gather the best of the best, the tops in their field. For 20 minutes we have the undivided attention of the likes of Bill Gates, Brene Brown, and Michelle Obama; each one taking complex topics and distilling them into digestible bites.

But where, oh where to start?

For example, there are Ted Talks that will make me a better writer. When Elizabeth Gilbert promises to coax out my Elusive Creative Genius, how can I say no? There are also Ted Talks that will make me a better wife—and quite honestly if I don’t listen to Ester Perel’s the Secret to Desire in Long-Term Relationships soon, I might be adding Surviving Divorce to my playlist. Perhaps most importantly, there are Ted Talks that will make me a better parent. Just the thought that Jamie Oliver wants to Teach Every Child about Food makes me want to throw out every frozen chicken finger and cheerio in my house. Finally, there are the Ted Talks that will teach my children core strengths like resilience and altruism. Talks that will encourage them to spot and fight bullying, play with fire, love the body they were born in, and become activists TODAY. Like any parent, I want my kids to become the best version of them selves—and Ted Talks can help.

But when am I supposed to watch all these Ted Talks? Ted Talks require time. True, you can watch some of them in 20 minutes but if you’ve forgotten why that doesn’t work, see paragraph two: It’s not possible to watch just one Ted Talk. How am I supposed to watch The Happy Secret to Better Work, and not follow it up with Measuring What Makes Life Worthwhile? One organically leads to the other. In other words, you need time to do it right. And who has time— even during a pandemic? I still have to scope scholarships for my university-bound teen and book dental cleanings for everyone before the next looming lockdown. Plus we’re woefully over due on training our counter-surfing retriever, and our basement’s a mess. And anyway how am I supposed to fit in new viewing when I still haven’t watched season one of The Crown?

It doesn’t help that no matter where I go, someone has a new Ted Talk that I simply HAVE to see. The ones that go viral are particularly tough to hear about. Things go viral when they strike a chord— like the world is having a collective “Aha” moment. And I love “Aha” moments!—especially collective ones! A Ted Talk that has gone viral ups the pressure because it means whatever is being said is of an even higher calibre than a regular Ted Talk. I can’t afford not to get inside the mind of a master procrastinator or hear lessons from the longest study on happiness. A Ted Talk that has gone viral clearly contains the secrets to the universe. At the very least, a Ted Talk that has gone viral gives me something to talk about at the dog park.

The truth is, I don’t have a solution for my dilemma, and I don’t know what the future holds. But I’m sure there’s a Ted Talk for that.

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Picture of Chris Deacon

Author: Chris Deacon

Chris Deacon is a Toronto writer and television director. Her work has appeared in Chatelaine, Today’s Parent, Toronto Life and the Huffington Post.

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