This is getting sort of offensive

I wrote a short rant about TED a couple of days ago and I don’t know why I do this to myself but I am following them on Twitter. The Twitter feed contains the usual short tidbits to give outsiders the idea of what’s going on at the live event. An event that, as I mentioned before, costs USD 6,000 to attend (and that doesn’t include hotel, flight, extra expenses, etc.; that’s just for the entrance fee to the event itself). So far, in the past hour or so, these are some of the gems I’ve witnessed coming out of their Twitter account:

Pat Mitchell hosts the #TEDGlobal session Embracing Otherness: “I suspect all of us have at one point or another have been the other.”

Why yes, I suspect life might be very difficult, what with being othered and marginalized while you sit at a 6,000 dollar event!

Yang Lan at #TEDGlobal: In China, you work for 30-40 years to afford your first apartment. Starting salary $400/month. Rent $500/mo.

Remind us how hard it is to be poor in China, please. Show us a bit of your povertyporn so that we can feel some empathy. Even better, show us the poor in PowerPoint slides!

Nadia Al-Sakkaf at #TEDGlobal: Let me warn you I’m not the traditional Yemeni girl. I guess you’ve already noticed that.

Yes, yes, bring a visible “Other”, who’s acceptable for the mainstream (and let me remind you, who paid 6k to sit there) and explain that there are “traditional Yemeni girls” and then there is ME, filtering the experience for you (in a PowerPoint slide).

I get it that this is out of context and that Tweets can only have so many characters and that because of that limitation they are not going to be very meaningful. Still, coming from the TED official account, all of this perpetuates stereotypes and further emphasizes the distance between those whose lives are discussed and those who can sit there gazing at these narratives.

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