Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

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The tycoons of social media have to stop pretending that they’re friendly nerd gods building a better world and admit they’re just tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Because, let’s face it, checking your “likes” is the new smoking.

Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism

Over the past few weeks, I have been spending even more time than normal reading books and researching various topics of interest.

Not sure what everyone else is doing with their extra Coronavirus (COVID-19) time, but I have decided to put it to good use.

I heard great things about Cal Newport’s book Deep Work so I looked it up on my library’s website so see if it was available and they did not have it.

So I decided to put it in my Amazon queue of books to purchase and checked out Digital Minimalism instead.

I first heard about this book on an episode of Tom Bilyeu’s Impact Theory podcast in which he interviewed Cal Newport himself but didn’t think much of it.

Now that I’ve finished listening to the book I am so glad to have picked it up, to the point that I am considering skipping ahead to buying Deep Work instead of some of the books ahead of it on my list.

Digital Minimalism is about the effects that spending so much time on our electronics device is having on our social life.

The entire title says it all… Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.

We live in a world full of distractions, mainly from our cell phones. Social media site and apps bombard us with notifications that takes our attention away from what we are doing, to whatever is happening on that particular app.

We have become nervous wrecks trying to keep up with all the notifications we get on our phones.

I used to loath seeing individuals paying more attentnion to their phones than the people around them.

However, after a while, without noticing, I became one of those people.

My phone became my way of avoiding awkwardness or looking important (not bored).

But the underlying affect was that I was spending more time on my phone than actually interacting with people.

I was never big into the social media craze, but texting became my favorite way of communication.

After a while I started feeling like a crackhead who just couldn’t say away from the crack pipe (my phone).

Good thing is that I was able to realize this problem and implement new habits that slowly killed my dependency on my phone.

I was amazed to find some of those habits in this book.

Most are not life altering; simple things such as making a phone call, instead of texting can make a huge difference in the way you interact with others.

Others such as turning off app notifications can be terrifying as the feeling of missing out on something important takes over your logic.

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.

Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism

I can speak for others, but getting a handle on the way I was using my cell phone has made remarkable changes in my life (all for the better).

And the great thing is that I am not missing out on special events or anything that actually matters.

In this book, Cal Newport guides you through the steps that you can follow to take your life back.

Stop being a nervous wreck worrying about how many likes or hearts you got on your last post.

Unless you’re a social media influencer it doesn’t really matter.

Use this book to better understand the affects that our digital world is having on your life.

Understand the difference between good and bad “digital.”

Find the balance between your real life and your digital one.

I feel like I’ve rambled too much already, but before I get to my likes and dislikes below are some stats that you should be aware of:

I was amazed to find out the average American spends over 5 hours a day on their cell phones.

The stats on millennials didn’t surprise me as they are the first generation born into this new digital age so they have no memory of what life was like before Google.

OK, so let’s get back to our book and discuss some of the things I liked and disliked about it.


My Likes

The main thing that I love about this book is that it’s about figuring out how much digital immersion is enough.

Most books that I have read on this subject take the easy way out and advocate complete removal of the digital world.

However, I always disagree with that notion.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Whatsapp, TikTok, and other social media apps/sites aren’t 100% useless.

The problem is us and the way we interact with these apps.

They don’t exist for the purpose of connecting you with your friends and family or keeping you up to date on the latest trends.

Those apps exist to make money. Don’t let anyone trick you into thinking otherwise.

If they don’t make money, they disappear just like MySpace, Google+, and others.

The main objective of these platforms is to get your attention and turn that attention into money.

Digital Minimalist shows you the ways these companies are using to grab your attention and teaches you ways to control the influence they have on you.

“You cannot expect an app dreamed up in a dorm room, or among the Ping-Pong tables of a Silicon Valley incubator, to successfully replace the types of rich interactions to which we’ve painstakingly adapted over millennia. Our sociality is simply too complex to be outsourced to a social network or reduced to instant messages and emojis.”

Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism

Digital minimalists see new technologies as tools to be used to support things they deeply value—not as sources of value themselves. They don’t accept the idea that offering some small benefit is justification for allowing an attention-gobbling service into their lives, and are instead interested in applying new technology in highly selective and intentional ways that yield big wins. Just as important: they’re comfortable missing out on everything else.

Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism

I love these quotes and the way this book integrates them into its principles.

The main takeaway that I would like you to get from those quotes without giving too much away is that you can take advantage of our digital world without being enslaved by it.


My Dislikes

There ins’t much to dislike about this book.

The main issue I had with this book arose in the chapter about solitude.

Solitude deprivation is a state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds.

Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism

I agree that our phones prevent us from paying much attention to ourselves or anything else for that matter.

However, my problem was with the examples he used to illustrate the benefits of having time for ourselves.

He told a few stories about Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King as examples of the greatness that we can create by having time for ourselves.

Even through I understand the value in the stories he told, they seemed a bit out of place.

If you’re trying to teach me how to live in a digital world, don’t talk to be about people that had no idea what it’s like to live in these times.

Yes, they were both busy individuals that had many distractions, but nothing to the like that we have now.

I just felt like he could have used more recent examples.

I will restrain myself from linking out to more relevant examples (in my eyes), to let you make your own decision.

Outside of that, I have no complaints whatsoever about this book.


Conclusion

We live in a world that’s constantly pulling us in every which way imaginable.

The rise of smartphones, high-speed internet, and social media platforms have turned us into digital robots.

We focus more on whats happening in our phones, then the actual moment that we are living in.

Digital Minimalism is a book teaches us the damage that we’re causing to ourselves by immersing ourselves in the digital world.

It provides you with easy to follow steps for taking control of your life and having better interactions with others.

Basically, it teaches you how to merge technology into your life in a way that’s beneficial to you.

Looking to kick your digital addiction to the curb? Grab your copy of Digital Minimalism now.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

If you’ve read this book, let me know your likes and dislikes.

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