Digital Minimalism is possibly a term you have never heard before. Perhaps, like me you only recently heard the term and let out a slight groan, conflating the idea with the wider, more popular trending philosophy of Minimalism, in which people live a life with less stuff (I’m minimalising the philosophy there).
Let me clear, I like the idea of Minimalism. I have even tried to adopt some principles in my life, although all attempts have ended in failure as we are a family of hoarders. Note to self…. I must return to explore the philosophy. In addition, let me also state, I am huge advocate for technology, I teach it every day in my day job. However, I now see both sides of the equation, and want to help us be more intentional in the way we use it.
Back to the Digital version of the philosophy. I first learned about this area after hearing an interview with Cal Newport, a Computer Science Professor who also writes about deep work and intentional living. After reading his book: Digital Minimalism on the topic, I now understand the thinking behind it, and see the value in the philosophy. If nothing else, it is worth some thought and consideration.
The justification for the philosophy is that technology has permeated into every facet of our lives. Many times (as is the case with Social Media) the technology is designed to maximise our attention and interactions, which can often lead to the manipulation and monetisation of our thoughts and values by large tech companies. In addition, technology addiction, our obsessive phone checking, and validation from social media platforms is becoming an increasing problem in society.
Stood in the queue at Tesco …. flip the phone out rather than talk to someone.
Waiting at the bus stop …. fill the gap with mindless information on our phone.
Out on a date …. check-in on Facebook to tell everyone what your doing, rather than enjoying the moment.
Digital Minimalism is a call to discover a different way of approaching technology. Newport defines it as a philosophy in which you:
focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else - Cal Newport
It is founded in the belief that less is more (borrowed from its parent Minimalism philosophy) when it comes to new digital tools. That a carefully curated list of technologies can provide value to your life, but beyond this many are simply a distraction, which consume vast qualities of your time and limit more meaningful actions and interactions with others.
If your phone usage, Facebook scrolling, or Twitter addiction has ever caused you concern, then my hope with this blog is to help you recognise and start a new journey and relationship with technology. In particular with our phones. For example, would a better use of your time be to meet a friend for coffee once a month or call a relative for a half-hour each week, than spending that time observing their posted photos and clicking ‘like’ as a means of staying in touch?
If you believe so, join me on this journey and share your experience and tips. We can learn a lot from each other.