First step in getting your life back from digital addiction!
6 minute Quick read.
Digital detox – abstaining from social media, a smart phone is popular these days. So are the attempts like deleting apps, removing notifications, purging follow lists, and un-friend contacts are also very common ways to reduce digital clutter in life.
Cal Newport, author of digital minimalism argues such an ad hoc approach doesn’t really help in the long run. Particularly as you are fighting billion-dollar Goliath of tech giants spending on your attention.
You may value your attention and time for keeping an update in your field, spending quality time with family, contributing back to society, diving deep in your spiritual practices or simply enrich your leisure life. Whatever you value, you need to protect your time. In order to get rid of attention-seeking technologies and focus on value-adding activities – rather than ad hoc approach, – what you need is overarching philosophy and strategy deriving from it.
Digital Minimalism provides us three principles for such a philosophy.
Principle #1: Clutter is costly.
For example, Thoreau spent 2 years, 2 months and 2 days in a self-made cabin in the woods. Away from the world and came out with Walden – America’s most celebrated literature piece. The biggest chapter in the book is about the economy. Thoreau meticulously tracked every dollar spent. And he concluded that to live his life, he just needs to work for one day per week. This is for the industrial age of mid-1800. Thoreau’s idea is not new. But his way of measuring money in terms of “cost of life” was new. According to him every extra hour he spent in earning, is akin to farmers’ “smothered and crushed” life.
Similarly cluttering one’s life with social media and all of its paraphernalia clutters life and leaves us “smothered and crushed” for a quality life. Thus clutter is costly.
Principle #2: Optimization is important.
The Law of diminishing returns always works. For instance, if one keeps on adding more people or resources on a software project, one may see it useful at the start. But continuous addition of manpower will ultimately retard the project. This works in every field. Hence optimization is necessary.
So is the case for the use of technology. If we keep on adding one app or tool over others, finally it burdens us down.
But surprisingly we don’t try to optimize use. Seemingly there are two reasons for it.
- Most of tech products (e.g. Smart Wearable or WhatsApp ) are too new. Novelty seeking, experimentation factor continues and we refrain from optimization.
- Second is cynical reason. Those big-tech giants are spending billions of dollars on technology. They want you to think of the ecosystem as useful, fun, and interesting. So often they instigate to refrains from optimization.
Thus optimization in technology is important.
Principle #3: Intentionality is satisfying: Lessons of Amish hackers
Amish people seems to be frozen in time, And myth goes that they are averse to technology. They are not connected to the common electric grid, don’t use automobiles, and unthinkable for smart phone addicts – they don’t use smart phones at all, not even those old numbered or dial phones. They use community phone booths. Our young generation may not have seen them at all!
Deeper research in their lifestyle shows that they don’t reject all technology. They scrutinize it carefully. If the technology is detrimental to their values, community or church they discard it. And they have a well-established community-driven process to do this.
Being intentional, purposeful in the use of tech products not only will bring satisfaction but meaning and flourishing in life.
Thus these three principles can help us develop overarching philosophy to minimize the use of technology in our life. And gain our precious autonomy – first step towards digital de-addiction.
[This is my take or review/summary of 2nd chapter of Cal Newport’s book – Digital Minimalism].
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