If you are having a hard time in completing your tasks, meeting your deadlines, compromising on a focused and critical thought process or are you engulfed by chronic depression and anxiety?, anyways you probably are a part of this digital generation. The generation that really does not have any idea of how and why we use technology.
Almost every one of us has experienced compulsive anxiety of checking up our smartphones after every 3 minutes, whether we are in a meeting, in classroom, during an important lecture or in the middle of a conversation with your loved ones- how many times exactly you have excused that you were not listening to them? Now is the time to think about it.
Ever since the pandemic has hit upon us, the usage of advanced technology has risen drastically, having to say this, even before the pandemic, we were at the verge of mental and physical breakdown. It would not be wrong to say that it really does not bother us in any way as an average user of advanced technology. And by technology, I mean every social media entity we use, every minute of our lives that passes facing the screens of our smartphones and tablets. Needless to say this, the consequences are more detrimental than being calculated or imagined by some experts.
Fortunately, there are a number of people who are still living their lives as they want. They are not compelled to have a check on their smartphones whilst doing an important task, they do not scroll down mindlessly on social media outlets, they are perfectly fine with missing out everything on their Newsfeed because according to them what they miss is not really important for them. Ultimately, they are better off not having any anxiety issues or compulsive behaviors. They often involve themselves in real conversations instead of texting frantically. They are in favor of high-quality leisure and do not get themselves rusted. These people are called “Digital Minimalists”. They become a Digital Minimalist by their own choice, a choice that is worth to take a look on. They have become a refined version of themselves after practicing the art of Digital Minimalism, which has its own merits and perks.
Above all, the good news is that you can also become a Digital Minimalist if you are really dedicated and conscious about the hours you spend surrounding your techno gadgets.
Cal Newport is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University and it would not be wrong if I get to mention that he has introduced the thought-provoking philosophy of Digital Minimalism in the easiest way with recommended strategies and practices for organic results. By definition, according to Newport, Digital Minimalism is:
“A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else”.
The idea to boycott all the social media apps from your smartphone will not work; instead, it will get on your nerves. This idea seems absurd to the Digital Minimalists, because they believe that, the best digital life is formed by carefully curating your values, which are deeply embedded in the usage of technology in your hands.
How often we have asked ourselves that, why do we use Facebook while using it? Yes, not so often! A minimal solution is available to all our queries. We do not have to abandon all devices or reject common tools, here the core question for you to ask yourselves is “is this the best way to use technology to support this value?” Ask yourself if there is any part of your newsfeed which puts negative thoughts in your mind or makes you easily triggered by mere usage of strong words, if so then rethink about its usage. Why do you use it in the first place? Does it repay any support to your value system? Or is it just for entertainment? Remember a true Digital minimalist will never have his/her time spent through low-quality leisure entertainment.
To make it clear, let me give you an example of a real-life Digital Minimalist, her name is Michal. “Michal decided her obsession with online media was causing more harm than good. In response, she restricted her digital information intake to a pair of email newsletter subscriptions and a handful of blogs that she checks ‘less than once a week’. She told me that these carefully selected feeds still satisfy her craving for stimulating ideas and information without dominating her time and toying with her mood”.
THE PRINCIPLES OF DIGITAL MINIMALISM
If you are ready to change your digital life and ultimately your digital habits, then it is important to understand first how and why this philosophy of technology works. This is how you can tackle the enormous effects that technology has on you and embrace it just as your value system allows you to do so. There are three core principles:
- Clutter is Costly: The addiction to social media, apps and services always increases cluttering in one’s life which, in result, creates a negative impact that swamps away the productivity of an individual.
- Begin the Optimization: According to Digital minimalists, the first step to get started is to select specifically those apps or sites that can be useful in paying you back in your value system. In its entirety, try to explore its maximum potential. It is important that you take a keen observatory time to plan the usage of technology.
- Intentionality is the force: Digital minimalists holds a great deal when it comes to their intention while using the new technology. The intention is the driving force in this quest.
THE DIGITAL DETOX
The process includes:
- Setting a thirty-day period challenge for you, during which you will abandon the OPTIONAL technology that prevails in your life. Now you decide between the optional and compulsory.
- Finding new activities and behaviors that you find satisfying and meaningful. This will also teach you about the difference between low quality and high-quality leisure.
- At the end of the break, reintroduce the optional technology; determine what value it serves in your life. Set the target to how you will use it to maximize this newly determined value.
Some practices that come handy:
- Spend time alone (to really break the myth of loneliness and solitude, read this book)
- Leave your phone at home.
- Take long walks alone.
- Write letters to yourself (or try journaling or any kind of writing)
- Reclaim your conversations instead of clicking likes.
- Reclaim your leisure and autonomy over your time.
- Use social media like a professional.
- Join the attention resistance (it is a huge movement that states “the key to attention resistance is understanding that social media, smartphones and their associated apps are designed to capture and keep your attention while creating addictive patterns”)
Related post: Digital is Drowning Us – It’s Time to Unplug
In contrast to the lives of our ancestors, our lives are miserable. And apparently, we all know why. But the big question is that if we already know this, what are we waiting for to live a life worth living not spending. In the words of Newport:
“The key to sustained success with this philosophy is accepting that it’s not really about technology but is instead more about the quality of your life. The more you experiment with the ideas and practices, the more you will come to realize that digital minimalism is much more than a set of rules, it’s about cultivating a life worth living in our current age of alluring devices.”