Next up on this minimalism journey/series is digital minimalism which I honestly didn’t know was a thing up until about a month ago.
When you think of minimalism you usually think of physical possessions that take up space, and the idea is that you want less objects but ones that add value to your life. While this is still accurate it does extend beyond that into our devices…
We live in a very technological age and honestly I couldn’t imagine my life without any of it, but it definitely has it’s drawbacks. Social media can be very detrimental to your mental health, which I can say I have experienced and I know I’m not the only one. Even though being online is supposed to make you feel more connected it actually doesn’t really because socialising with people online is not the same as seeing them in person.
I recently bought this book by Cal Newport which basically goes through the basics of digital minimalism and things you can implement in your life to slowly become a digital minimalist. For clarification it’s not about ditching technology (but it can be if you want), it’s about using it more for good so it adds value to you life, instead of taking things away. Simply defined, digital minimalism is:
A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimised activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on the restTaken from ‘digital minimalism: choosing a focused life in a noisy world’ by cal newport
I think that this is concept that everyone should implement into their lives because as a society we spend SO much of our time looking down at our phone. Anytime I go anywhere, people are staring at their screens. When out walking, when waiting at the traffic stop, when in a queue, in cafes, in restaurants. Basically anywhere and everywhere. I feel like you miss out on so much by not looking around and taking in your surroundings.
I’m not perfect either, I’ve been wanting to cut down my screen time for ages but have struggled, I think I average at about 3-4 hours on my phone per day and sometimes it’s more than that. I’m not even using it productively, it’s things like YouTube and social media. I’m kind of ashamed which is why I wanted to do this and also I’ve started university now so should really spend my free time doing work instead of endlessly scrolling…
I wanted to share some points from the book if you were wanting to start making some positive changes in your life! So he discusses the 3 principles of digital minimalism to help you get started:
- Clutter is costly. I think everyone has way too many apps on their phone and a lot of the time some of them aren’t even used. You should only have apps on your phone that you use on a daily/weekly basis because otherwise what is the point in having them. “The cumulative cost of the noncrucial things we clutter our lives with can far outweigh the small benefits each individual piece of clutter promises.” It’s similar to the premise of a tidy space equalling a tidy mind, you only need to have out the things you use, as it can help you have a clearer headspace.
- Optimisation is important. This one is important because it helps you change your mindset, when thinking of the things you need on your phone you need to think of ones that are going to be the most effective and useful to you. Instead of aimlessly downloading apps because they look good you need to look at how it can add value to your life.
- Intentionality is satisfying. Choosing your tools more selectively can be more satisfying, instead of just getting anything and everything. “the sugar high of convenience is fleeting and the sting of missing out dulls rapidly, but the meaningful glow that comes from taking charge of what claims your time and attention is something that persists.”
It’s definitely something that is easier said than done. For example I wanted to start off easy by cutting down my screen time but in fact I have been struggling some days. When I don’t have a lot to do I instantly just pick up my phone and endlessly scroll through social media, even when I’m watching TV I seem to pick my phone up and pay more attention to that than the film/show. I’m trying to start off with baby steps to reduce my screen time, so I am watching TV more mindfully and not going on my phone and also not being on my phone when eating.
Spending so much time on devices can lead to solitude deprivation which is: “a state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds.” Phones are basically a big distraction from important things you perhaps need to do and also a distraction from what’s going on in your head. Which can inevitably lead to mental health issues, so take some time away from your phone and enjoy the real world.
If you are not into reading and would want to watch something instead then I would recommend watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix, it talks about the truth behind social media and it influences all of our lives without us even knowing it. It’s kind of shocking but also very eye opening. It has really helped me to spend less time on my phone because I can now see the effects that it has had on me.
Social media really took off in the early 2010s when I was growing up so it has always been a huge part of my life, but it has lead to so many mental health issues. Not just in myself but also in nearly everyone I know. It has almost become the norm to have something like anxiety which is honestly awful and it’s thanks to social media that this is an issue!
After watching that and also reading the book it has kind of made me want to just throw my phone out the window… As much as phones can be super useful in case of an emergency, I think that we all need to start only using them for emergencies instead of spending endless hours scrolling.
The thing that has clicked in my head is that scrolling on Instagram for an hour is in no way benefiting my life, so why do I do it? Why do we all do it? I could really use that time on a much more useful activity such as actually doing my university work or spending time out in nature or being with my family. Or even putting more time into producing good content on here. The options are endless.
Really ask yourself if any of the things you repeatedly do on your devices are in any way benefitting your life! If they’re not then delete them and stop using them. I do wanna do a whole post on how you can become a digital minimalist.
I do wanna pull out some more quotes from the end of the book to help you understand why becoming a digital minimalist can really benefit your life!
The people that have adopted this lifestyle “see new technologies as tools to be used to support things they deeply value – not as sources of value themselves.” So sort of similar to the principles of minimalism in that it’s about having and using things that are going to bring value into your life. For example you might question how much value Snapchat is bringing you and if you don’t feel it is then delete it!
It’s “not really about technology but is instead more about the quality of your life” … “it’s about cultivating a life worth living in our current age of alluring devices”. This does sound kind of deep but it really is about leading a more fulfilling life because spending less time on your phone means you have more time to spend in the real world and you have more time to do all those things that you want to do.
I hope that this may have been eye opening for you and now you may want to make some positive changes surrounding your phone! I do definitely want to do a post about what you can do to become a digital minimalist if you would be interested in reading that.
What is your average screen time? Do you want to start spending less time on your devices?
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