Day 1: The attraction of Digital Minimalism

One of the benefits of the digital age, at least for me, is the availability of so much reading material via audiobooks.  If you’ll excuse me, I’ll avoid engaging with the debate as to whether an audiobook is read or whether that ‘reading’ is qualitatively or physically better or worse than engaging with the printed volume.

What is undoubtedly true, is that the range of materials given this treatment has expanded over recent years. I’m sure there’s an interesting correlation with the sale of earbuds somewhere in that change, but I’ll leave that to others to explore.

I’ve been listening to Cal Newport’s intriguing book called Digital Minimalism and I have to say, so far, I’m something of a fan having found a very analog kindred spirit through digital means. (The irony is not entirely lost on me).

In an entirely unfair precis of the work, the main points I’ll be taking away from the publication are:

  • We didn’t sign up for the social media infrastructure that has emerged. Even its creators didn’t anticipate it
  • Technological change is outstripping evolutionary capability to respond resulting in surges of anxiety, mental health issues and isolation
  • Social media use can trigger dopomine reaction not unlike forms of addiction
  • As we increase social media exposure we markedly reduce our communicative and social skills

Of course, much of this is known and hardly breaking new ground. However, this book suggests linkages to increased social anxiety, feelings of isolation, loss of purpose and is very well sourced. Overall I found it a compelling piece of analysis.

Unlike many other books, this provides some concrete suggestions (backed up by a study of over 1600 participants) aimed at reclaiming space in the real world and becoming a thinking digital minimalist.

There are a number of tests for technologies (it needn’t just be social media), I’ll leave you to read the book for those, but there were some practical steps that I felt ready to try as the toxicity of social media has become something that’s just too unpleasant while failing to deliver the promised connection with friends.

As a result, I’ve taken Facebook off my phone along with the other social media distractors. I’m taking a month off the lot (cold turkey or what) and will consider which if any I have missed sufficiently to reintroduce them after that. Oh, and should I reintroduce any, there will be rules, constraints and a purpose to their presence.

This blog will allow me to track that trial, allow those who want to follow the process to do so here and give me a means of reflecting on the process during and after the event.

The first tip was have things you want to do or try to replace the digital time at hand before you exit the social media world. Well I have some candidates in mind. Some cycling. garden projects, photography, job hunting and meeting up with actual friends – in person – and talking – without phones. It’s odd that should sound quite so revolutionary, but it’s also hugely positive. Wish me luck and maybe I’ll see you on the way.


You might also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *