Author Topic: Digital Minimalism  (Read 3689 times)

big_slacker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1358
Digital Minimalism
« on: March 07, 2019, 08:09:09 AM »
I did a search and nothing came up, though I'd be surprised that it hasn't been discussed here. This is a book by the author of Deep Work and So Good They Can't Ignore You, both excellent reads as well.

This basic premise of this book is to take a hard look at how most use technology, particularly social media, by default rather than intentionally. It advises taking a 30 day strict rules based break from online distractions and replace them with pre-planned analog activities like reading, hobbies, building, etc. Once the 30 days is over, then apply some very specific rules to future tech use, questioning not only is it useful in some way or even useful to one of your values, but the BEST way to aid those values. If it passes those tests and others, then you can set a specific methodology for how you'll use it.

MMM himself is mentioned in the chapter of leisure as an example of not just laying around on your time off but pursuing high quality analog activities.

Good book, worth a read or listen.

grantmeaname

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4802
  • Age: 27
  • Location: NYC
  • Cast me away from yesterday's things
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2019, 03:47:47 AM »
The book is only a month old - it can't be that surprising that there wasn't yet a thread on it...

katsiki

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1434
  • Age: 39
  • Location: La.
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2019, 11:17:59 AM »
This is on my list too.  Mad Fientist did a podcast recently: https://www.madfientist.com/cal-newport-interview/

innkeeper77

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 238
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2019, 11:26:48 AM »
My library had an electronic copy available already via libby, so I read it. I was pleasantly surprised that in addition to the high quality (even if already known) advice bits and the anecdotal stories (that were worth reading), there was quite an interesting analysis of Thoreau's Walden. I'm not one to seek out such content, but somehow found it to be a page turner!

gerardc

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 768
  • Age: 35
  • Location: SF bay area
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2019, 11:07:21 PM »
Good one. This is the future

Zola.

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 403
  • Location: UK
  • Let's do this.
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2019, 03:57:13 AM »
Currently reading Deep Work

It's making me think about going to the library with IT books related to my field and studying..

Tass

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1598
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Southern California
  • Working on a PhD...
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2019, 12:50:52 PM »
I just read it last week, after anxiously awaiting it for months. I'll quote from my journal rather than repeat myself, but I'm interested in any discussion that may evolve here.

To be honest, the book is less helpful than I'd hoped, but mostly because I knew the philosophy already and I was just hoping for shortcuts to implementing it. My problem is not an addiction to any particular site - I have no problem ignoring the internet in social situations - but a cyclical avoidance of unfulfilling work. Welp.

New efforts upon reading Digital Minimalism:
  • Made several activities computer-only: social media (messaging excepted - but see #3), email, news, youtube. Also turned off notifications or removed from homescreen a couple apps I only need in specific circumstances (i.e. grocery store coupons, Google Fit, etc).
  • Set goals to check my email, news, and budgets only 3x, 2x, and 1x per day, respectively. I have a little post-it note with checkboxes for this.
  • Trying out a similar consolidation of text messages where I leave my phone on Do Not Disturb by default - with exceptions for calls from important people - and take it out of DND at specific times to catch up.
  • Restricted certain entertainment sites like xkcd to Sunday only using StayFocused.
  • Maybe call my little siblings on a weekly basis, since only one of them will return letters?
Okay, that last one also grew out of the "how to be a big sister" thoughts from last week.

My messaging is scattered across (*counts*) SIX different apps, which is pretty annoying, but I decided consolidating that is a low priority. It requires getting other people to switch apps, and it's not a huge timesuck for me. (I did also install Moment to find out if that's a lie.)

The big timesucks are this forum and facebook. I unfollowed a bunch of people on facebook and blocked the "unread posts" page here (not the "unread replies" page) in an effort to cut down on general browsing, but ultimately the problem isn't that either site catches my attention - it's that I'm actively trying to turn my attention away from something else. It can be boring as all get out; if I have two sites to cycle between, I can procrastinate for ages. Restricting them to Sunday only just results in me training myself to get around my blocking app. I'm still ruminating on how to access these in a healthier way.

Noodle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1183
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2019, 12:38:22 PM »
I loved "So Good They Can't Ignore You" but found that Deep Work didn't have a whole lot of relevance for me. So I wasn't sure what to expect from Digital Minimalism, especially since I find a lot of value in some of the things Cal Newport was complaining about in Deep Work (email, specifically).

I don't think I'm exactly the audience for this book--it seems to be more for people who spend more time on their phones and social media than I do--but I liked it more than I thought I would. What I realized is that while I don't seem to have the reflexive distraction problem that some people do, I do spend more time than I should on digital stuff. So while I probably wouldn't do the 30-day digital fast he suggests, the book did encourage me to do things like turn off some notifications on my phone, remove a couple of mindless games that were real timesucks, do things like putting my tablet back in my bag after lunch instead of leaving it on my desk, etc. I still have some thinking to do on that front.

One of the aspects of the book that I really liked was that Newport talked not just about what to reduce, but also what to replace low-value digital activity with. He made the interesting point that American self-improvement often focuses on cutting things out (like dieting), whereas European self-improvement often focuses on improving the quality of an activity (the Slow Food movement) but that one of the reasons people often fail at cutting back on low-value digital activity is that they don't have something better on hand to occupy that time.

Tass

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1598
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Southern California
  • Working on a PhD...
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2019, 02:19:00 PM »
One of the aspects of the book that I really liked was that Newport talked not just about what to reduce, but also what to replace low-value digital activity with. He made the interesting point that American self-improvement often focuses on cutting things out (like dieting), whereas European self-improvement often focuses on improving the quality of an activity (the Slow Food movement) but that one of the reasons people often fail at cutting back on low-value digital activity is that they don't have something better on hand to occupy that time.

I found that very interesting and relevant as well!

Reader

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 409
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2019, 09:32:15 PM »
I just read it last week, after anxiously awaiting it for months. I'll quote from my journal rather than repeat myself, but I'm interested in any discussion that may evolve here.

how about another one to add to your list? checking MMM forums only once a day at most?
i do it way too much myself..

Tass

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1598
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Southern California
  • Working on a PhD...
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2019, 09:41:12 PM »
Ugh. Yes. That would be a good one, and it is a step I haven't taken only because in the past, I have subverted my own efforts to enforce it and ended up failing in all my efforts. I went for smaller targets first.

I think to enforce that I would need to have a specific time of day to do it. Perhaps once right after I get home from work, then not again?

Luz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 61
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2019, 07:33:19 PM »
I wish there was a thread where we could post case studies on our digital lives.

I liked the book, but I feel like the author made the process sound more simple than it really is. It's hard to draw a clear line in the sand on what to keep and what to toss. Or maybe the line is obvious, but it's really hard to ignore everything else once you've found your essentials.

I use the internet for ideas, and find most of the good stuff in forums like these (I love how crowdsourcing works). But in an effort to shift more of my idea gathering (and time, focus, energy) off-line, I'm trying to define where my line is. The volume of ideas on the internet is way too much for me to digest. It's just endless. So I thought I would stay connected to my forums, but only as a resource where I can post questions I have, rather than scrolling through everyone else's posts and sometimes commenting. But then I would have to search the forum first to see if anyone else had posted a similar question and it takes a lot of restraint to not start scrolling because it's so damn interesting.

So what does your digital minimalism look like and is there anything tripping you up?
How should I approach my forums? Do I pull the plug, give them free rein, or try something in the middle?

@Tass, how is your process coming?
« Last Edit: August 25, 2019, 07:36:46 PM by Luz »

Tass

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1598
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Southern California
  • Working on a PhD...
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2019, 09:15:25 PM »
I relate to 100% of what you just posted, and I wish I had a useful update for you. I backslid over the summer while preparing for a big examination. This is a theme for me - the more stress and less time I have in my life, the more I rely on internet as a distraction to fill whatever time I do have.

Last week I heard someone else discussing the guilt they felt over their internet use and was a bit amazed, upon thinking, about how widespread and normalized that is. I want to envision what my internet use would look like in a perfect, guilt-free scenario, and then make some goals to move toward that. I haven't gotten around to writing anything down yet - perhaps your post will be the kick in my pants.

My suggestion would be to cut back on the forums until you feel you're losing something of significant value in your life. When I cut back, I mostly feel like I'm losing distractions - but distractions are hard to give up, it turns out.

Luz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 61
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2019, 02:44:37 PM »
I relate to 100% of what you just posted, and I wish I had a useful update for you. I backslid over the summer while preparing for a big examination. This is a theme for me - the more stress and less time I have in my life, the more I rely on internet as a distraction to fill whatever time I do have.

Last week I heard someone else discussing the guilt they felt over their internet use and was a bit amazed, upon thinking, about how widespread and normalized that is. I want to envision what my internet use would look like in a perfect, guilt-free scenario, and then make some goals to move toward that. I haven't gotten around to writing anything down yet - perhaps your post will be the kick in my pants.

My suggestion would be to cut back on the forums until you feel you're losing something of significant value in your life. When I cut back, I mostly feel like I'm losing distractions - but distractions are hard to give up, it turns out.

The internet was 1000x more enticing when I was in school and a paper was due, so I feel your pain.

I've been minimizing desktop files, internet bookmarks, my email inbox, google photos and docs, and my social media accounts (deleted all but facebook after passing them through the values test) the past month since reading Digital Minimalism. I felt like I needed to muck things out before setting out on my detox.  I wanted to start with a clean slate. I'll likely need a month more of mucking because I can only do it in tiny chunks right now rather than my preferred marathon mode.

So over this month I've defined my what, how, and when.
 
What:
-computer: gmail, google photos, google docs, facebook, 1 blog, and 2 forums
-phone: talk/text, camera/video, and as an iPod (podcasts, audio language program, music)

How:
-Freedom app shuts down internet at 7pm
-use internet during the day for task-based purposes (work, pay bills, look up an address or recipe); shift idea gathering off-line (books, magazines, newspapers, podcasts, etc)
-write ideas down on paper and filter out the excess before adding it to my google docs notes
-use facebook to stay up on in-person events for different groups in my city, to buy things second hand, and to easily contact people from my past (and present)
-use facebook groups, forums and blog as resources for specific questions related to my career, child-raising, and lifestyle (that means using it proactively rather than aimlessly; no scrolling)
-hide everything from my facebook feed, keep on top of notifications

When:
-in the evening for 30 minutes while my husband is on baby duty

My issues are the following:
-because my schedule is variable, I never know which 30 minutes of the day I'll have open, so I can't really use the freedom app to block facebook and forums during the other hours of the day. Ideally, I'd have a controls app that gives me 30 minutes total a day, to use at my leisure, and I'd block it the rest of the time. I also host in-person events through facebook and need to be somewhat available for questions and RSVP's. Not sure how to place limits with that in mind.

-will power is no match for the dopamine hits that scrolling provides (supposedly scrolling involves the same neural pathways that light up with slot machines and cocaine). It's easy to say that I won't go into my forums aimlessly, but difficult to actually do so day in and day out.

Despite the challenges, I do think there's something powerful about defining my essentials and placing everything else on the other side of the line. Maybe still difficult to ignore, but perhaps not impossible.

Something that may help me move forward is to give the forums, blogs and facebook groups a sabbatical. I don't want to pull the plug forever and ever, but I could probably get by just fine for a year.  And if I am avidly re-investing in my off-screen life during that time, as is suggested in Digital Minimalism, it'd be even more doable.

So maybe that's my answer. Finish mucking out. Take a year's break from scrolling by stepping back completely from my forums. Meanwhile, invest heavily in my off-screen life. Take stock September 2020. I may have insight then that I don't have now for how to avoid getting sucked in, while still staying connected to the best the internet has to offer.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2019, 02:48:54 PM by Luz »

Tass

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1598
  • Age: 26
  • Location: Southern California
  • Working on a PhD...
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2019, 02:58:50 PM »
Your point that willpower is no match for the dopamine hit is real. I have been shy about sharing specifics of my internet habits on this forum because I feel they demonstrate a lack of willpower on my part, and I'm ashamed about that particular lack of "badassity." I think my internet habits are also my avenue for procrastination, which is a related but ultimately separate problem that doesn't disappear during an internet hiatus. I am really getting interested in your idea of an internet case study, or perhaps group journal, for accountability in the effort to make this part of my life more efficient and enjoyable.

As to your specific forum scrolling question, you could selectively block some pages of the forum (like the All Unread page, or subforum homepages) while still allowing specific bookmarked journals or other threads through.

Last year I took a monthlong break from social media during a larger campaign for "scroll free September". I may repeat the experience. I'm impressed by your interest in quitting for a year. https://metro.co.uk/2019/07/16/scroll-free-september-happening-year-urge-off-social-media-10352951/

Luz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 61
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2019, 10:27:39 PM »
Your point that willpower is no match for the dopamine hit is real. I have been shy about sharing specifics of my internet habits on this forum because I feel they demonstrate a lack of willpower on my part, and I'm ashamed about that particular lack of "badassity." I think my internet habits are also my avenue for procrastination, which is a related but ultimately separate problem that doesn't disappear during an internet hiatus. I am really getting interested in your idea of an internet case study, or perhaps group journal, for accountability in the effort to make this part of my life more efficient and enjoyable.

As to your specific forum scrolling question, you could selectively block some pages of the forum (like the All Unread page, or subforum homepages) while still allowing specific bookmarked journals or other threads through.

Last year I took a monthlong break from social media during a larger campaign for "scroll free September". I may repeat the experience. I'm impressed by your interest in quitting for a year. https://metro.co.uk/2019/07/16/scroll-free-september-happening-year-urge-off-social-media-10352951/

So I'm launching my detox in a few days. I was going to finish mucking out everything first, (I'm going through my photos as we speak) but decided that with the bulk of it done, I might as well not postpone things.

I also changed my plan a bit to rely more on external controls because it's really hard not to scroll. I'm keeping facebook off except for an hour on Saturdays and a quick, 15-minute check-in on Wednesday (I'm posting my phone number on the events I host so people can text me if they have questions).

If I scroll during that hour, that's ok- it won't lead to getting sucked in because my access will automatically shut off at a certain time. At this point, I don't see a clear path to avoid the scrolling by my own willpower. Hopefully, the detox will help with inspiration on that. Or I may just rely on the controls indefinitely, and that's fine.

I'm putting 6 of my forums (all of which made the cut on having value) on the back burner this year. Computer controls will make them inaccessible to me, on my laptop and phone at least. I have what I need for this year from them (for example, my FI plan for the next 12 months) The 7th forum, I'm keeping active. That one is for childraising. I recently had something I wasn't sure about and got fantastic insight from the group. I'm in the thick of the toddler years, so I decided I could use the advice on a more frequent basis.

So my What remains the same minus the 2 forums, 1 blog and 3 of the 4 facebook groups on sabbatical. I'm not worrying too much about my How at this point since my When via the Freedom app will provide most of the restraint.

Wish me luck! I'm excited to invest in my off-screen life this year and am curious to see what shape it might take with a little TLC.


Plina

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 77
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2019, 02:07:23 AM »
I really liked the book and closed my FB account after that. I had already unfollowed most people so my FB took only a couple minutes of the day. I reopened it a couple a months later because I needed to sell some boxes and it was cheapest to do it on FB. Frankly I havenít missed it and Injust realised I havenít checked it after I sold the stuff.

I did the 30 day fast with the exception that if I saw something that I wanted to post on Instagram I could be no checking of the feed. I made two posts I think. I could also access gmail and use whatsapp that I use to stay in contact with family and relatives. Othervise I didnít have ny major problems to stay of digital devices. I didnít either restriktioner the use of digital books.

spartana

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 498
  • FIREd at 36? Or maybe it was 42?
Re: Digital Minimalism
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2019, 09:08:24 AM »
I've been a digital minimalist for a long time and really love it. I've unplugged from most things and haven't had home internet or even a computer for years (although currently have roommate who has Wi-Fi so I go online WAY more then I want. I just have a cheap Tracfone smart phone and don't do any social media at all other than the occasional MMM forums. When I'm not at home I almost never go online at all so that could be a month or two totally unplugged. I love it! I get so much more out of life not being glued to a screen (no cable TV either and no antenna reception except a couple of channels). People tell me I'm too disengaged but it feels like the opposite to me. I feel more involved in life in a hands on kind of way.then I ever did when being online more often.