Digital minimalism: stuff that is useful to get out of the loop

… insights from Cal Newport’s book

Digital minimalism is a three-step process where Newport is asking to minimise or drastically reduce digitally distracting “stuff” based on things you value. In other words, it is a case of replacing digital time with time that you value in itself (“intrinsic” value). Newport’s basic tenet is that, it is not about how useful digital media (social media) is to you, rather, be careful what it takes away from you in the garb of providing you with some utility services such as keeping in touch with people or getting in the loop of intermittent positive reinforcement and meeting your craving of social approval of your tribe. Newport claims that the first, which is basically what the tech companies provide you with unpredictable digital stimulation of “likes” and “responses” is connected to your “need” for social approval or validation. If you can overcome these two aspects of your so-called “connected” life, you are all set for digital minimalism. For that to happen, follow his three step path.

Essentially, asks to do three things:

  • Start with a 30-day “digital fasting” or removing non-essential and distracting digital artefacts from life
  • In these 30-days, “rediscover” activities that were neglected due to your digital life taking over
  • After 30-days, “reintroduce” that which is essential

He talks about really interesting analogies throughout including Thoreau’s Walden in how he accounted for his time and resources, and Amish way of life (and Mennonites). Essentially, these were preludes to his thoughts about essentialism.

Jaron Lanier
Laurence Scott
Tristan Harris
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Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Also in:

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