Cal Newport delivered a TED Talk on why we should quit social media. Since then, several people have mentioned that social media and technology serves a purpose for them. Newport re-thought his stance and came up with a new position, what he calls Digital Minimalism. The idea is to utilize technology to serve our needs; to take a middle path and use technology wisely, as against the extreme positions of complete abstinence or total indulgence. 

We didn’t sign up for this

Steve Jobs’ vision of the iPhone was to combine a phone and a music player into one, not to transform our phones into mini-computers. Mark Zuckerberg’s initial Facebook rollout was intended at college students connecting with their peers, not to connect everyone in the world together. We did not sign up for the world as it is today; we have stumbled onto it.

Digital Minimalism Philosophy

Newport gives three principles which form the backbone of the digital minimalism philosophy

  1. Clutter is costly – We may try out several apps which give us marginal utility, but added together, the cost is a huge chunk that is the minutes of our life.
  2. Optimization is important – To extract full benefit, plan out how exactly we will use technology. 
  3. Intentionality is satisfying – We will not stumble onto technology but utilize it out of our volition.

Newport asks his readers to commit to a 30 day digital declutter process – take a break from optional technology activities and in their place, explore and rediscover activities that are satisfying and meaningful. 

Having outlined this basic philosophy, Newport gives several strategies and options that the reader can choose from. He encourages people to take up activities which involve a physical component – carpentry, building something, fixing a car or motorcycle, etc. These can replace less meaningful activities such as binge watching TV shows.

Newport also suggests scheduling low-quality leisure activities like watching TV shows or interacting on social media. Only at those times will we engage in those activities, at all other times we will abstain from those activities.

Summing up, this is a must-read to read on how to make technology work for us, and not the other way around.

Image Credit: Castorly Stock from Pexels

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