‘Digital Minimalism’ by Cal Newport

Most of us spend way to much time with our smartphones and constant input from music, podcasts and videos. I always knew this was not good, but Cal Newport was the first who succeeded in explaining it to me why.

While solitude had been infringed upon by previous technology advancements, nothing has come close to completely removing solitude like the invention of the smartphone, which, to make a massively understated generalization, is no bueno.

For me, the pull to just check something, literally anything, on my phone was and is too much. Even without social apps, there’s compulsive texting, checking email, YouTube videos, and so on. I felt less and less in control of my attention and uncomfortable with my need for the constant drip of stimulation.

Isaac Smith – Ditching my smartphone

When I first heard of Cal Newport, I was fairly skeptical. He’s a computer science professor and author of several books and articles on self improvement and productivity. One of his main arguments for Digital Minimalism is the fact, that we as a society are now constantly connected to a stream of input from external sources – a state he calls Solitude Deprivation:

Solitude Deprivation: A state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from the input from other minds.

Cal Newport – Digital Minimalism

He describes, that our current “obsession with connection“ has caused us to loose the ability to process and make sense of emotions, reflect on who we are and what really matters, or to build strong relationships. He postulates that Solitude Deprivation doesn’t allow our brains to power down critical social circuits (which are not meant to be used constantly), which leads to missing energy for other important cognitive household tasks.

I don’t have to look very closely at my life to know that a lot of things I do multiple times a day just can’t be healthy. Be it checking the phone every few minutes for new messages, scrolling through Instagram if I have to wait in line for two minutes at the supermarket, mindlessly watching Youtube videos while I’m bored at home, or playing music or podcasts while doing chores. All this behavior shows some kind of addiction to social media & technology as well as the need for constant input throughout the day.

I’m very happy, I stumbled upon Cal Newport and DIgital Minimalism as it helped me realize something I already knew but didn’t want to see or act upon it. Right now, I’m figuring out different ways how to declutter my life from digital mess and hope that I will be able to report on progress really soon.