Cal Newport has written another excellent book about how technology (mostly social media) has affected modern life. Digital Minimalism is the follow-up the ground-breaking book, Deep Work and Newport expands on his ideals from that previous work to propose a new philosophy for the social media age.
Newport lays out this philosophy in two parts. First, it is the foundation for digital minimalism. I can sum it up with this paragraph from the book:
“A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.” (p.28)
Newport argues that the bad effects of technology and social media has cost us our attention and we need to have a more disciplined approach with our use of technology and social media. And companies like Facebook and Twitter wants our attention more than it should be humanly acceptable.
The second part of the philosophy for Digital Minimalism is how one can apply it pragmatically. Newport supports practices such as a 30 day digital decluttering, embracing solitude regularly, playing board games, and probably the most controversial aspect in the entire book, not clicking “Like” when you are on social media. He supports this aspect in this paragraph:
The key issue is that using social media tends to take people away from the real world socializing that’s massively more valuable. The small boosts you receive from posting on a friend’s wall or liking their latest Instagram photo can’t come close to compensating for the large loss experienced by no longer spending real-world time with that same friend. Where we want to be cautious…is when the sound of a voice or a cup of coffee with a friend is replaced with “likes’ on a post. (pp. 141-142)
On the surface, it may seem that Newport is proposing a radical philosophy with Digital Minimalism. However, I believe he has made a strong argument for how we can have a better relationship with technology and social media. Our attention is a valuable commodity, and we have given away too easily in the social media age. Newport has provided a pathway on we can get this precious commodity back. I highly recommend Digital Minimalism and it will be one of my favorite reads of 2019.