Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

This is yet another been on my TBR list for awhile. It was okay and I think partly because I already employ most of the these techniques. I think the book wasa good way to reflect on my relationship and history with smart phones and social media.

Like most millennials, I got my first cell phone in the aughts and had three or four standard cell phones where were limited to texting and calls. From 2010 to 2013, I did not have a cell phone. I bought an older iPhone 4 from a colleague. I’ve had two other models since then as I try to stretch the life of my phone. However, I do need my phone for work and will likely upgrade end of this year. Over the years, I’ve found podcasts and communication tools the most beneficial to my life. When I travel, the phone becomes even more essential.

The smart phone has changed human life and society. I feel privileged to have grown up in a time where the internet and digital handheld devices did not dominate the landscape. I remember how novel the internet use to be back in the 90s and the early aughts. I’m child free and I am glad I don’t have to navigate how I would have to parent with it. I am really grateful for the smart phones and social media in some ways but not all of course. I don’t want to view the past in the rose coloured nostalgia lens either though.

In terms of social media, I find I have to use it in certain ways to keep up with society and my own practical life. I’ve always been ambivalent to Facebook. Facebook is not that good about keeping you connected on a deep level. In fact, I don’t like using Facebook and wish I didn’t have to use it. I made my birthday private so I wouldn’t get the yearly messages from people who don’t really know me. It has too many ads and I don’t like how pushy the Shorts are. I don’t want to connect with “People you may know” because if I wanted to connect with them, I would have already. I have to use it for a few instances. I am involved in a book club which uses it as the main tool of communication. I use it for a Buy Nothing group and Marketplace when I want to sell something. Also, I have a cpuple friends who mainly use or prefer Facebook Messenger. I have that app on my phone but not the Facebook one.

Like others, I have dabbled in many social media over the years including this blog which is really not popular like they were in the aughts and most of the tens. I’ve had Livejournal and Tumblr. Never really could get into Twitter and in fact have a bad experience with it. I have LinkedIn since I am self-employed and even have had a professional photo taken for my LinkedIn profile. I am grateful that most of my work does not come from LinkedIn so I only log in once a month at most.

I do use Instagram a few times a week to keep up with friends and local organisations or businesses. I don’t find myself particularly attached to it. Over a year ago, I made it private as Icouldn’t be bothered to consistently post on there for my hobbies. I only post when travelling to share it with friends. The other social media apps I use regularly are text messaging apps, GoodReads, Youtube, and Reddit.

As part of the decluttering in this book, the author recommended deleting or limiting apps on your phone for at least one month. I decided to remove the apps which I’ve become more addicted off my phone since I tend to doom scroll them: Youtube, Reddit, Wikipedia (I really just love looking things up). I did not take them off my IPad though but I leave my Ipad out of my bedroom. With the phone, I have it near by as a sleep aid so it’s too tempting to keep on the phone. I kept the text messaging apps and social media sites which I don’t tend to be addicted to you: the Instagram, Goodreads, and Duolingo which I’ve been using to keep my french up. I don’t really play games. I also decided to like and comment less on Facebook because I’m not really sure my friends care.

The book is not badly written and I liked the examples he used from interviewing people who have limited their digital use including Mennonite communities. The last few chapters about making leisure plans and getting hobbies did not apply to me as much as someone who has a lot of hobbies. The book felt a bit padded after the initial premise. Not a bad one.

I have not added Reddit, Youtube, or Wikipedia back onto my phone. I hope to keep them off for longer than a month as well.

3/5 stars. Read Feb 28-March 4, 2023.

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