6 Lessons from Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

What do you call a “lazy” type of book review? I just want to casually talk about a book without the seriousness of a book review.

So I read Cal Newport’s digital minimalism 3 weeks ago. In the book, he advocates for a digital responsible life where we are not tied to our digital devices.

Digital minimalism is a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else

While reading, I noted a few points that struck a chord. If I’m being honest, I think the entire book struck a giant chord…

Point 1: Treat the minutes of your life as a concrete and valuable substance
Time is the most valuable substance we possess. Cal’s advice is that you always reckon how much of this life you trade for the various activities you allow to claim your time.

Point 2: Everyone benefits from regular doses of solitude.
Give your brain the regular doses of quiet it requires to support a monumental life.
Solitude requires you to move past reacting to information created by other people and focus instead on your thoughts and experiences —wherever you happen to be.

This journey of solitude is one I’m conscious to cultivate. I think the noise around us prevents us from having time to hear our inner thoughts. During our review, a couple of people shared their erroneous belief that solitude was about just being alone. But as we learned, you can be physically alone but very distracted from digital noise. As Cal says, humans are not wired to be constantly wired.

Point 3:Practice leaving your phone at home, taking long walks, and writing letters yourself.

I used to write letters to my future self until I lost them with my phone. Going forward though, I intend to start writing more in my note. Just casual small notes to myself. Point 3 reinforces the need for solitude and how to attain it. During my occasional walks, I realise  I’m able to distil my thoughts always from distractive pings on my phone.

Point 4: “Feeling Lonely? Too Much Time on Social Media Might Be Why.”

As the negative studies imply, the more you use social media, the less time you tend to devote to offline interaction, and therefore the worse this value deficit becomes—leaving the heaviest social media users much more likely to be lonely and miserable.

A face-to-face conversation is the most human—and humanizing—thing we do. Fully present to one another, we learn to listen. It’s where we develop the capacity for empathy. It’s where we experience the joy of being heard, of being understood.

Point 5: Cal believes in cultivating leisure that helps you produce something outside the screen.
The first lesson is to prioritize demanding activity (like painting) over passive consumption (like scrolling on Facebook)

The second is to use skills to produce valuable things in the physical world.
The third is very vital. Cal says to seek activities that require real-world social interactions.

Point 6: Extracting eyeball minutes, the key resource for companies like Google and Facebook have become significantly more lucrative than extracting oil.

Who would have thought Facebook will become more valuable than ExxonMobil? How do you think the biggest makes money? They do so by selling your time on their products. Remember, if you’re not selling anything then you’re the product.

Reject the mindset that says you must always have your smartphone with you.

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