I introduce Cal Newport's book, and how it's helping me take control of where I spend my limited currency in today's attention economy.
My wife borrowed Digital Minimalism at our local library, and we both read it. Living a life supported—but not lead—by technology resonates with me. Technology is not intrinsically good or bad, but we should carefully evaluate whether every piece of technology you allow yourself to use enhances your quality of life or not.
Not everything in the book was new to me. I wrote about my smartphone addiction nearly 5 years ago, and although I haven't given up my smartphone my situation has improved. My phone currently has no:
- Social media apps
- Slack (despite using it at work)
- Mail (yeah, you read that right)
- News app
This has certainly helped, and I've weaned myself off compulsively looking at stuff on my phone whenever I'm not at my computer. (E.g. while brushing my teeth.) I'm even comfortable leaving the house without my phone. However, it is not enough.
Twitter and Facebook still steals my attention when I'm in front of my computer. I tried paring down the number of people I followed, and installing browser plugins to remove their worst distractions. I still found myself compulsively checking the services. I spent more time than I indented on these services, and I never came away feeling this time was well spent!
Additionally it's clear by now that Twitter and Facebook are only interested in maximising your time on the site so they can get your eyeballs in front of more ads, and damn the consequences. I don't want to line Dorsey and Zuckerberg's pockets any more.
I deleted my Twitter account last week, and my Google account (used solely for YouTube) today. I've scheduled my Facebook account deletion for July 1st. This is the only service I've used to communicate with wider family and childhood friends, and I wanted to give them a bit of a heads up before disappearing.
What's next? One of the most distracting habits left is reading news online. I currently get most of my news from the BBC, but I'm considering re-subscribing to The Economist. I cancelled because I never managed to read their entire issue, but I miss their more in-depth reporting and lack of celebrity worship and single-paragraph "stories" without any substance.
Essentially, I'm extricating myself from social media and unwanted digital distractions, bit by bit. For a while I've desperately wanted more control over where I spend my limited currency in the attention economy. Reading Digital Minimalism gave me the confidence to take action.
You can't delete Safari, but you can use Screen Time settings to hide it.