Arianna Huffington: We need to break technology addiction

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times

The Huffington Post founder and Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington told a full house Wednesday that 20 percent of people use their smartphones during sex.

Standing before guests of the Aspen Ideas Festival, the president of a media corporation argued for a societal need to break our addiction to technology.

As someone whose entire career is centered around technology, her argument for a need to disconnect is compelling.

The mother of two talked about a recent family vacation in which she refrained from using her phone for a week. She fondly recalled the advantages of “unplugging,” saying she was able to be “completely present” with herself because “there wasn’t that other thing fighting for my attention.”

“It was amazing to realize I could have a meal without Instagramming it,” Huffington laughed.

Technology and multitasking hurts creativity, productivity and independence, she said.

“People are gradually having a harder time being alone,” Huffington said.

A study of people given the option between receiving an electric shock or spending 15 minutes alone revealed an overwhelming 67 percent of men who said they would rather be electrically shocked.

The results echoed some of her other comments about the need to feel liked or approved.

Technology isn’t slowing down or changing, so there will always be a distraction. While arguing that people are becoming more aware of the issue, she said society still has an “enormous” way to go.

She said society is at a turning point in recognizing how dangerous technology has become.

“People are finally coming out and talking about it,” Huffington said. “The most creative people we know say we need to disconnect.”

Steve Jobs, for example, claimed his best ideas came after zen meditation, she said.

She revealed some of the ways she personally addresses the need to disconnect. Huffington said she “gently escorts” all of her devices out of her bedroom 30 minutes before she goes to sleep.

“It was scary at first, but you know they’re there in the morning, fully recharged, and so am I.”