– Cal Newport
The book Digital Minimalism (2018) by Cal Newport is about managing and leading a focused life in a noisy world. It is a guidebook for anyone under the clutches of social media, who hopes to enhance their productivity. With the growing skepticism about the new technology and social media, people are starting to question their complete reliance on the digital world. The book aids you to manage your life, while abstaining and taking a break from the fast evolving age of new media and technology.
The introduction of the “Like” button in social media platforms in the year 2007, was a widely approved technological novelty. The notifications generated by just clicking this button, adhered to personal interests and behaviours. Eventually, people realised the adverse effects of social media and smartphones in their everyday lives. The book by professor Cal Newport is a detailed experiment and observation, carried out by 1600 volunteers leading to the study of digital minimalism. Learning to control and master the powerful forces of the attention economy is the need of the hour.
The influx of the digital era in the form of Apple iPhones and Facebook Likes have unintentionally consumed the time and life of netizens. Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg had clearly not anticipated the addictive and threatening influence of technology and social media. The dire urge to check your smartphones, texts and emails, followed by the impatience and crossness when not using social media could be the symptoms of nomophobia. Social media tycoons are being referred to as the new big tobacco, selling products feeding on the natural human desire to be guided by the feedback from other people.
Digital minimalism is a lifestyle constructed on the philosophy of less is more. Social media must be segregated and accessed based on need and usage. Enduring results are possible not from the quick fixes, such as disabling the notifications, but by promoting the minimalist idea of only letting in things that bring joy to your life. The three principles such as, optimization of your tools, realisation that accumulation is costly and application of a value based approach to the tools used, are the techniques in achieving digital minimalism.
The New Economics insists on analysing the digital media influence in your life similar to the act of purchasing a valuable thing and determining its worth. The Law of Diminishing Returns, another economic hallmark admonishes to categorise the information explosion to suit your personal demands and to optimize the necessary sources. The third principle propagates the wisdom of the Amish, where the technology is tested to enhance and promote the fundamental values and beliefs, or else it is banned if found to be harmful and not beneficial.
Digital minimalism can be practised by undergoing a digital declutter for thirty days. It’s a phase of abstention from using all non-essential technology from your life. Recognising the addictive habits you possess might demotivate you on several levels, but overcoming them would ensure promising results. Planning and making a clear distinction on what is convenient and necessary is crucial for the social media break. The thirty days are followed by the reintroduction period, where introspective questions about engaging in any technology are to be asked to oneself. Asking queries like, “does Instagram or Skype offer better relationship connectivity?” would help in framing and realising your value systems and to eliminate ineffective technology.
Cherishing the moments of solitude by absenting yourself from smartphones are steps that ensure sustainable change. Solitude deprivation, suffered by the “iGen” group, which includes people born between 1995 and 2012 and waste considerable time on smartphones, may end up in unpleasant relationships and delayed mental and emotional responses. Leaving the phone at home and going for a solitary walk can be a source for inspiring ideas and satisfying thoughts. According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, spending more time on social media and feeling deserted, are mutually inclusive. Scheduling the phone calls and promoting real, face to face conversations, instead of texting through social media will make your life meaningful and happy. Engaging in high quality leisure, like hobbies that entails exhaustive effort, would give mental and physical satisfaction, compared to the low quality leisure of engrossing in social media.
Digital minimalism is only a small part of the widely popular Attention Resistance movement. Cementing individuality and autonomous power by defying the marketing strategies of the attention economy is vital in retaining your focal point and to be more productive. Also making your computer, a single-purpose device would decrease the dependency on smartphones and social media. The goal of digital minimalism is not mainly to cease the usage of technology, but to initiate a permanent transformation of your digital life.
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