A video that changed my life

We just uploaded a story  that reminded me of another video, one that changed my life.

While our story was about Chris, whose life was forever altered by a childhood correspondence with an American couple who sent him gifts from the other side of the globe. For those of us from younger generations, our defining experiences may be online.

For me, it was my first TED Talk video

I had never seen a TED talk video before. Looking back, there was no big shock watching that it. It was a person on stage, delivering a speech to an audience–a tradition as old as time. With university still fresh on my mind, there was nothing mindblowing about it.

Until I realized there was. You could watch amazing talks along the lines of the best, most motivational lectures from the classroom, on demand from across the world. All of a sudden, millions of curious minds had access to what had once been a privilege enjoyed by a lucky few sitting in the room.

TED Talks offer that perfect combination of intimacy and quality control created by being a selective live event. I felt part of the audience, whisked away from the possibly sad reality of the present. I may have been alone in a room at a computer, wearing pajamas and eating a bag of Doritos, but TED brought me back to an auditorium and motivated me to do something more noble with my time.

My first video

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave the talk that inspired the work I do today.

Ms. Adichie is a novelist who talked about the importance of of storytelling, which can sometimes sound abstract, but made clear how powerful stories are. How they shape our world.

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.

If you have 20 minutes, I’d highly recommend watching her video here, or even just scan the transcript.

Her talk underpins why I am working on Tell History, developing tools to help everyone have their stories heard. Why? So that people can set the record about their own lives, their own communities, and not rely on a tiny class of people (journalists, academics) to relate their stories. As Ms. Adichie says,

Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person.

I am personally motivated to give everyone a space to tell their own definitive story, and that’s the thought that sends me to work every day. Thanks Chimamanda!

Who changed your life? We’d like to hear about it. Write us @tellhistories or send me a note at alex@tellhistory.com