"They joined Facebook to stay in touch with friends across the country, and then ended up unable to maintain an uninterrupted conversation with the friend sitting across the table." — Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism
I know, you know, we all know — there are better things to do with our time than peruse social media. Despite knowing this, I had to reel myself back from multiple digital distractions while writing this. Pandemic life over the past year certainly hasn’t helped. Reports show that in past months usage of Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms have increased significantly.
So, in light of this knowledge and this month’s theme, Simplicity, I invite you to visit (or revisit) author Cal Newport’s idea of digital minimalism with me.
According to Cal, “the cost of social media is not so much what you are doing, but what it is pushing out of your life” — and for many of us, that is high-quality leisure activities and learning how to be alone.
While always-available apps and social media have their merits, they also enable a unique form of “low quality distraction”, giving us a ready escape when we might otherwise be processing important problems, gaining insight, or practicing the lost art of simply being. Over time, this leaves us feeling impoverished.
Enter Cal’s Three Principles of Digital Minimalism:
Clutter is Costly — Which apps are critical and support your values?
Cal draws a parallel to how hoarders can point to any single item in their collection and give a reason for why that item needs to stay in their life. The same can be said for our digital lives. Each app is working to dictate how you spend your time.
Optimization Matters — How can you make technology support, rather than dictate, your schedule?
For example, if you are a member of a community that uses Facebook groups, you can exercise digital minimalism by deciding to not have the app on your phone or only check the group on Sunday and Wednesday nights.
Intentionality is Satisfying — What are ways that convenience is getting in the way of your intentions?
It’s easy to worry that adopting digital minimalism might lead to temporary inconveniences, like not being 100% up-to-date on the latest news or updates from friends. Cal argues that this is OK because the positive overall value of being intentional and taking back control of your presence far outweighs any marginal benefits gained from sporadic updates.
After revisiting digital minimalism, the question I keep returning to is:
How can technology support me, rather than dictate my attention?
I plan to use this month to identify the apps which are critical to my well-being and remove those that are just convenient. At the end of the month, I may add some non-critical apps back in, but at the very least I’d like to challenge myself to live like a digital minimalist for the rest of May — want to join me?
For those joining the Member Gathering on the 20th, we will touch base on how it’s going and share takeaways from our experiences.
To a month of less, but better...
Co-Founder, Holstee & Reflection.app
P.S. Digital minimalism is one of many ways we explore the theme of Simplicity with our members. Download our 25-page Digital Simplicity Guide PDF for more concepts, activities, and inspiration on living a simpler yet more meaningful life.
Photo by Brad Javernick of Home Oomph
Begin your day feeling grounded and inspired.
A free 30-day email series where we share the most impactful stories and ideas that have helped us on our journey to live a more meaningful life.
✌️ Free. Unsubscribe anytime.
“I’m in the midst of big life transitions at the moment, chasing book deals, relocating, taking risks, carving out a life that feels honest, so your emails have been a perfectly timed source of inspiration and reassurance.” Jo in London, Great Britain
"Love the emails! They are a great reset or what I would call mindful chiropractic adjustment to approaching the day. Thank you!" Laurie in Albuquerque, New Mexico
"I love the emails. They give me a new perspective and things to think about and apply in my life." Monica in Johannesburg, South Africa
"It's food for the soul and sets my spiritual compass in the right direction." Farahdiva Samsul in Assam, India
"Absolutely LOVE the daily emails. One of the only email subscriptions I read daily. Keep them coming!!" Adriana in New York, New York
"The emails are thought-provoking and uplifting. A little pause from the crazy happenings of modern life. A quick chance to reflect, smile, and think about a life lived mindfully." Pharan in Queensland, Australia
"I have thoroughly enjoyed the Mindfully Mailed series. Daily I await this little nugget of goodness to hit my inbox each day." Tambria in Shreveport, Louisiana
Welcome to Holstee
Living with intention is an ongoing practice, not a destination. Inspired by this, we’ve created a range of products to help you on your journey to live both fully and mindfully, including the Holstee Membership, Reflection Cards, and our recently-launched Reflection.app.
This article is part of our series on the theme of Simplicity.EXPLORE Simplicity →
Inspiration and tools to help you live a more meaningful life.VISIT THE SHOP →