The average U.S. smartphone user touches their phone 2,617 times a day. Eighty six percent of Americans check email, texts and social media “constantly” or “often,” according to the American Psychological Association. However much we love our phones and value their ability to enrich our lives, stats like these make clear that our relationship with technology isn’t always as healthy as it might be.
Against this backdrop, several leading voices from the worlds of media and technology convened Wednesday to ask: can technology help us repair our broken relationship with technology?
Thrive Global CEO Arianna Huffington and Marc Mathieu, CMO of Samsung Electronics America, explained that technology can and should be used to “augment our humanity,” as Huffington put it. In the last year especially, the world has realized how much technology has overwhelmed our lives, but the answer is not to get rid of technology. Huffington said the key is to remember to “reconnect with ourselves, reconnect with our loved ones and then go back to our tech.”
The panel, at Samsung’s event space in New York’s Meatpacking District, included Laurie Segall, senior technology correspondent at CNN, and actor and entrepreneur Adrian Grenier, who offered their experiences around the theme of Technology & Humanity.
As an investigative and tech journalist, Segall said she’s always had a “love affair with tech” and its unique ability to connect people. She noted that, in the last couple years, more and more people, even tech industry leaders, have been participating in “digital detoxes,” showing that people are becoming more aware of our toxic relationship with technology.
One of the quickest ways to curb our technology addiction is “getting out in nature,” according to Grenier. Once you’re in nature, he said, you feel grounded and you don’t miss your tech devices.
“Put down your phone, go out and just be in awe of God’s creation,” he said.
Though technology is advancing every day, Huffington said she’s “not at all afraid,” as long as we continue to “nurture and develop” our three most important human qualities — empathy, love and creativity.
“A.I. may be more intelligent than I am, but I don’t care about that if I’m wiser, more loving and more creative,” she said.
Moving forward, Huffington encouraged everyone to take part in our long overdue “cultural shift” toward a more human-centered tech world. In partnership with Samsung, Thrive Global unveiled the new THRIVE App for Samsung Galaxy Note8 fans. The app helps users redefine their relationship with technology by allowing them to take a break from their phones and devote time to the activities that make you human.