Dignity Health promotes less smartphone usage, more conversation

Dignity Health created a technology-free lane in downtown Phoenix on Monday, Nov. 16, 2015, on Central Ave, just south of Washington for its Take Back Your Morning initiative. (Photo by Wafa Shahid/Cronkite News)

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

Dignity Health is urging Phoenix residents to “take back their morning” by ditching their smartphones and engaging in conversation – a conversation defined by human interaction and human kindness.

Dignity created a “human interaction lane” at Cityscape in downtown Phoenix, where people passing by were encouraged to walk through the lane without using technology and engage with one another over a free cup of coffee.

Bob Collopy, a downtown resident, loves the idea.

“With my generation with all the technology, cell phones, online interactions, emails, social media, we’ve really lost the need to look at the person in front of us,” Collopy said.

Jose Gutierrez, a certified nursing assistant in the Phoenix area, wants to see more in-person interaction.

“Most certainly, people are on their phones way too often. As people we’ve lost that interaction, I feel. We’re always posting things up on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook,” Gutierrez said, adding that people don’t “sit down and have a coffee.”

The “Take Back Your Morning” initiative is asking Phoenix residents to make a pledge to promote more in-person interaction with the hashtag “take back your morning” visible on social media accounts.

“We’ve really lost a certain degree of our humanity and we’ve replaced it with a superficial version of human interaction” Collopy said.

The tech awareness campaign encourages people to learn more about the health benefits of a technology-free morning.

A Dignity Health survey inspired the campaign.

It found that people estimate that they check their smartphones 134 times each day and 87 percent of respondents feel people spend too much time on those phones.

“By actually coming together and seeing each other in person and forcing that real interaction, that we were designed to have, we can achieve so much more than a like or a comment on a post,” Collopy said.

The next “Take Back Your Morning” campaign event will happen in San Francisco in December.