Best-selling author and founder of Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, on Tuesday, said the main intention of social media companies is to take and monetize people’s attention.
Huffington was in New Delhi to launch her company Thrive Global, a well-being and productivity firm that uses online and offline measures to help people avoid stresses. Launched in New York in November, it has partnered with Times Bridge to expand in India.
Thrive Global is the 66-year-old digital media pioneer’s brand-new effort to counter the negative effects of social media and tech addiction, something that she said, is leaving 100s of millions of people with mental and physical health illnesses. For instance, even as mobile phone addiction shot up by as much as 100% in India, around 35% of working professionals reported that they have developed insomnia as a result of work-related stress.
Thrive Global aims to battle the current situation with mechanisms such as company workshops and coaching, a media platform dedicated to becoming the global hub for the conversation around well-being and a behavior change product suite that includes science-based Pathways, Journeys and Micro steps, as well as the Thrive App.
“People realize now that when they are exhausted and burnt out, they are not as productive and healthy,” she said. “So, Thrive Global is very practical. It takes the latest science and the ancient wisdom that was created here in India about what it is to lead a good life. And it breaks it down into actionable micro steps, small behavioral changes that can actually make us more productive and healthy.” Apart from helping individuals destress, Thrive Global has also worked with several leading organizations, including Accenture, JP Morgan, SAP, Nestle and Alibaba, to refine its science-based change solutions.
Huffington said she wanted to launch Thrive Global in India first after the US because of the ancient wisdom of scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas. Times Bridge and Thrive Global together will develop modules combining indigenous traditional wisdom and global practices.
Accusing social media for people becoming angry, irritable and reactive and less sympathetic, Huffington said it is time for them to take back control of their lives. “Technology is an incredible servant but a terrible master,” she said. “What is a ‘like’? A ‘like’ is the most superficial indication that someone cares for you. It takes a second to like a picture. People become obsessed with how many likes their picture gets and they come back for that. These are all tools that play on our own needs for validation and hook us. And the only way to counter that is to treat them as tools and not masters.”