Have you ever wondered about the implications of technology? Long term and short term? Or how it even came to be? About the pace of its advancement and how heavily it affects our lives? Cal Newport provides an exciting insight into the book called Digital Minimalism: On Living Better with Less Technology.
It starts with the idea that social media is the new nicotine. Social media is the latest form of addiction. There is an urge to check for notifications and acts as a nervous twitch. For example, most Facebook users are known to use the app for more than fifty minutes per day. And that’s only one of the many social media platforms we use in today’s age.
There are other examples of this argument too. Technological gadgets such as smartphones and laptops have also taken up most of our time. Even without the internet, these devices are integrated too profoundly in our lives that its usage has already surpassed the initial expectation.
Newport breaks down the specifics of how technology has dramatically affected our lives and provides alternative solutions in handling them. In a quote, the book talks about:
Digital Minimalism is a philosophy of technology in which you focus your online time on a few carefully selected activities that support the things you value.
This book is broken down into four critical sections:
One of the many examples the book provides is about the iPhone. It had initially been an ‘interesting combination between your iPod and cell phone”. Developers had only thought of how a device could accurately perform a series of tasks combined. Nobody expected the iPhone to go beyond its purpose. Somehow, it revolutionized the concept of cell phones.
Technology has too many advantages. It can perform multiple tasks continuously without end that addiction comes with reliance on these gadgets.
Newport promotes carefully reflecting the value of your technological choices. There is a difference between you controlling your gadget or vice versa. These are three principles on the philosophy of Digital Minimalism.
The Principles of Digital Minimalism
- Clutter is costly. – Digital minimalists recognize that cluttering their time and attention with too many devices, apps, and services creates an overall negative cost that can swamp the small benefits that each individual item provides in isolation.
- Optimization is important. – Digital minimalists believe that deciding a particular technology supports something they value is only the first step. To truly extract its full potential benefit, it’s necessary to think carefully about how they’ll use the technology.
- Intentionality is satisfying. – Digital minimalists derive significant satisfaction from their general commitment to being more intentional about how they engage with new technologies. This source of satisfaction is independent of the specific decisions they make and is one of the biggest reasons that minimalism tends to be immensely meaningful to its practitioners.
Have you reflected on your favorite technologies? How important are they to you? How much do they affect your life?
The second part of this book is on active practice on Digital Minimalism. This is extremely challenging and is a transformation process for yourself. Here you identify with technological rules on what is ‘convenient’ or ‘critical’ technologies. This may very well be the difference in utilizing existing resources against addictive factors that may become harmful in your life.
Digital Declutter happens in 2 phases.
Take a 30-day break – “During this month-long process, you must aggressively explore higher-quality activities to fill in the time left vacant by the optional technologies you’re avoiding. This period should be one of strenuous activity and experimentation. You want to arrive at the end of the decluttering, having rediscovered the type of activities that generate real satisfaction, enabling you to confidently craft a better life—one in which technology serves only a supporting role for more meaningful ends.”
Reintroduce technology – After reintroducing technology, ask yourself,
- Does this technology directly support something that I deeply value?
- Is this technology the best way to support this value?
- How am I going to use this technology going forward to maximize its value and minimize its harms?
Spend time alone
The last section of the book states to take some time alone. Some realizations and self-reflections need to be done amidst this chaotic and ever-present virtual presence of the internet.
Self-reflection is maintaining a sense of internal balance. It gives you a break from the anxiety present in the environment. This includes public approval with ‘likes’ and tweets.’ Let the mind rest to help it perform better next time.
One of the essential factors in spending alone time is:
Solitude Deprivation –A state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds.
Take long walks and leave your phone behind. Or write letters to yourself, especially during hard decisions. These ideas would help you reclaim the leisure and balance of your technological usage.