Perhaps you have hard of the phrase “digital minimalism” and are drawn to the idea, or maybe, the phrase confuses you because we have always been told “the more technology, the better!” So, in this blog post, I want to ask the question… Is more technology better?
This blog post is not intended to state that social media, technology, or any particular devices are “bad” or “good.” I simply want to open the topic to deeper thought and discussion and raise awareness. From this point forward, I will be seeking to live a life of digital minimalism, and perhaps, after reading this blog post, you will be inspired to investigate further for yourself.
How I discovered Digital Minimalism
Earlier this month, I was listening to Dr. Mark Hyman’s podcast, The Doctor’s Farmacy, and I came across an episode featuring Cal Newport, who has authored many great books such as Deep Work, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and Digital Minimalism. Cal Newport is in his mid-thirties, and he has authored six books and a successful blog while also being the associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University.
Cal Newport has never had any social media accounts.
During the podcast, I listened to Newport talk about how the addictive and dangerous side of social media and technology outweighed the positive side, and his explanation of how everyone has been tricked into giving their time to devices that did not exist twenty years ago. As he talked, I began to realize how much I was using my phone. Even though, before this hour-long podcast, I would have said that I did not use my phone excessively.
Is Technology Bad?
As a society, we have been told that in order to be successful, popular, connected, focused, and happy, we need to use all the different social media or technology platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, texting, and Email. However, now, I am convinced that the opposite is true. Studies have shown (there are many excellent examples linked in the podcast and Cal Newport’s work) that the rise in smart phones, especially in the generation that has had smart phones since the beginning of high school, has coincided with the rise in anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), decreased focus, and so many other negative symptoms.
Additionally, other studies have shown that social media is designed to be addictive and to keep us constantly checking our phones for an update, text, news, and any other notifications. For example, have you ever forgotten your phone but felt imaginary buzzing? Our brains have grown accustomed to the constant influx of dopamine that occurs from receiving messages and notifications, and social media exacerbates the issue. To the social media companies, time is money and we, the social media users, are the product of the apps that expose us to advertisements, branding, influencing.Basically, the more we use our devices, the more money they make.
Adopting Digital Minimalism
So, how is digital minimalism implemented in real life? Are we supposed to give up all of our technology and live in the “dark ages?”
While I think we would all be happier than we can imagine living in a world that did not have the widespread usage of smart phones, watches, live streaming, and more, the short answer is the following: digital minimalism is a lifestyle that implements the benefits of technology without falling into the trap of repetitive, addictive, use.
Digital minimalism uses specific technology for a specific purpose, and when the purpose has been accomplished, the technology is put aside completely for real life conversation, long walks, family time, and many other wonderful, enriching experiences. Yes, it is possible to go on a coffee date with a friends and leave your phone at home or at least in the car. Yes, it is possible to put the phone on airplane mode when you are at a family reunion, Yes, it is possible to look at your phone less than five times a day.
It is likely that some of the previous statements seem ridiculous to you. However, imagine the freedom that comes from not being tied to a device! Even if you look at your phone very few times a day, you will remain caught up on any important messages, you can still receive phone calls from people that truly need to reach you in that specific moment, and you will not be distracted, anxious, wasting time, or stressed from the amount of notifications.
Imagine, if you can, how much simpler life would be without having a distracting device glued to you at all hours.
It is important to remember that everyone’s versions of digital minimalism will look different, so my personal goals will probably be very different from yours. However, maybe my list will spark some ideas for you!
- Instead of focusing on restricting my technology and social media usage, I will focus on adding beneficial activities to my life such as reading, long walks, running, playing piano, sewing, playing board games, and spending time with Jake.
- I will not be posting to social media on the weekends when Jake and I are together.
- I will not scroll on Instagram, Facebook, or any other platform.
- I will try to accomplish my usage of social media in the most efficient and timely manner, so that I can focus on cultivating real life connections in my business, yoga classes, and other activities.
In conclusion, I hope this post sparked some new thoughts, and I truly hope you research the topic of digital minimalism. Cal Newport’s book, Digital Minimalism, is a great place to start, and it is a quick, easy read! In addition, check out the previously mentioned podcast or this TEDtalk!
I would love to see your thoughts on this post, so please comment or ask any questions! In addition, if you were inspired to put a picture on Instagram because of this post, tag me at #shalomhomestead!
Best wishes and shalom, friends!