One of the biggest news storylines of 2017 was about the role technology plays in all aspects of our lives. As we begin 2018, looking ahead at a new year with resolutions for a better life, it's time to examine and recalibrate our relationship with technology. Constantly checking emails, losing ourselves down the rabbit holes of social media, sleeping with our phones next to us or tucked in bed with us, immediately taking out our phones when there’s a moment of pause in our day, answering texts or calls while we are having dinner with friends or family, being available and “on” 24/7 and having our attention controlled by something other than ourselves — all these come at a great cost. They are all signs that our relationship with technology is undermining our humanity. It’s not sustainable, it’s not healthy, and it’s driving the pace of our lives beyond our capacity to cope, and robbing us of the time we need to recharge and reconnect with ourselves.
This has far-reaching consequences, especially for India’s youth. The number of people being treated for mobile phone addiction has spiked between 75 and 100% in the last year alone, mostly among young people in the age group of 13-24. A recent study showed that 65% of Indians between 22-25 years old show signs of depression, while 25% of teens (13-15 years old) suffer from depression. The President has called the spread of mental health problems in India an epidemic and the Prime Minister dedicated his radio address in March 2017 to highlight this crisis and end the stigma around mental health. At the heart of this dramatic increase in stress and mental health problems is our relationship with technology, which is feeding our obsession with being always on – an obsession which has led to exhaustion and fatigue becoming the top health concern among adults in India.
But India has unique resources to meet all these challenges. Its ancient wisdom and spiritual traditions are now at the center of a global conversation about what it means to live a good life. And the truth and power of India’s centuries-old philosophy on life is increasingly and conclusively validated by modern science. Scientific discoveries about the connection between well-being and performance are enough to convince even the most skeptical, secular societies to embrace the knowledge embedded in Indian culture for centuries: the power of meditation, yoga, contemplation and compassion to change our lives and our world.
That’s why I have chosen India as Thrive Global’s first country to expand after launching in the United States last year. I truly believe that, more than any other place on earth, India has the answers to what I see as the biggest question of our time: how we work and live in an age when change is exponentially faster and technology has permeated every aspect of our lives. It is my hope that India can take the lead in answering this question, not only for Indians but also for the rest of the world.
This embrace of ancient India must be led by the future of India which is why I am particularly keen to speak to India’s millennial generation – the generation most impacted by technology in the history of mankind. I want to hear from them about how we can be better stewards of our humanity at a time when artificial intelligence, machine learning and algorithms will be increasingly dominating our future. After all, it’s millennials that will be implementing these solutions and designing the future and I’m curious to know what's on their minds.
On January 3rd, I invite you all to join this conversation about the role of technology in our lives. I will be in Mumbai on Wednesday to host a Twitter Town hall discussion on technology, humanity, health and well-being. Think of it as an opportunity to set our individual and collective New Year's resolutions. Ending stress and burnout, changing the way we work and live, and creating a healthier relationship with technology are the central missions of Thrive Global, and I want you to help us set our agenda here in my favorite country on the planet.
Come join me in person, or via Twitter, where we will have a live video stream -- to discuss, debate and ask questions, kickstarting this urgently-needed conversation to ensure that 2018 is the year when we put technology in its right place and take back control of our lives.
I’m thrilled to be back in India and I look forward to meeting you or hearing from you.
With all my best wishes for the new year,