Arianna Huffington: Balancing Social Media and Interpersonal Interaction

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Arianna Huffington, an entrepreneur and journalist best known for her column The Huffington Post, came to Bucknell University to speak. Her main point of discussion was to promote periodic and regular disconnects from technology in favor of more personal face-to-face interactions. Advocating a more balanced lifestyle, Huffington spoke of the downsides of being too attached to social media. This was a surprising, yet powerful, message to send. As a highly successful businesswoman, many would expect Huffington to be someone who is very much attached to technology, checking her email constantly and attending to other business matters. In addition, as the founder of the Huffington Post, a site that thrives on the notion that more and more people are turning to the Internet for news, Huffington surprisingly acknowledged that one cannot be entirely wrapped up in social media in order to be successful. Instead, more interpersonal interactions are essential to success.
 
In mid-May 2013, Huffington gave the commencement address at Smith College. Here, she attempts to redefine success in order to incorporate not only on money and power, but also by a third metric based on “well-being, wisdom, and our ability to wonder and give back.” Staying up late to the extreme of detracting from a healthy lifecycle is extremely unhealthy. Huffington describes, “… women in stressful jobs have a nearly 40 percent increased risk of heart disease, and a 60 percent greater risk for diabetes. And in the last 30 years, as women have made strides and gains in the workplace, self-reported levels of stress have gone up 18 percent.” In addition to these health concerns, overexerting yourself and becoming sleep deprived does not foster the kind of unique, creative thinking that ultimately results in success in the real world.
 
Business success, she goes on to explain, is not sustainable in its current form. “Change much more than the M to a W at the top of the corporate flow chart. Change it by going to the root of what’s wrong and redefining what we value and what we consider success,” she urges. This idea of a more practical and less stressful form of success will usher in a new revolution of success. As people learn to regularly disconnect from technology, they will better learn about truths about themselves and the next generation will be happier and more successful as a result. Huffington becomes a great example of a successful woman in business who has learned to master this balance between technology and regular disconnects and striving for success without overexertion and sleep deprivation.
 
Perrin Judd
Tufts University
 
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