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  • Darshana Ananth

Why You Should Become A Digital Minimalist?

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

I’m sure all of you reading this had jumped on the whole social media bandwagon at some point in your life and now you don’t know what it has made out of you. So let’s all jump into this ride of exploring how social media and technology advancements have indented our personal values in life.

We, humans, are easily vulnerable to things, even though our intentions say otherwise. People who live their lives intentionally also get sucked into some things they didn’t mean to, occasionally. These strong tech forces make us vulnerable, pulling us into this never-ending hole of social distractions that we absolutely don’t need.

Digital Minimalism is a concept brought forward by an academic professor named Carl Newport. It deals with the philosophy of technology use, where we mindfully select what we consume every day, things we really care about, things we choose to invest our time on outside of work, and keep only the tools that help and better our lives, that align with our personal values.

‘Digital Minimalism’ is his new book shining light on the above-mentioned ideals. His best-selling book ‘Deep Work’ focuses on spending long chunks of time to focus on one particular thing rather than getting everything done at once which results in overwhelm and failure.

Social Media has been engineered to make us stay longer on these platforms and is said to be made deliberately addictive by companies making money out of it. Social giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have re-engineered their feeds and technology using the ‘easy-to-access' and ‘one-click away bait to attract more and more people into this giant black hole.

In 2006, Facebook was a platform only to list out your favorite movies, songs, and books and share your views, and now we’re seeing someone’s expensive vacation photos or your nephew’s first birthday bash. Times have changed just like that. The reason why people compulsively check their socials is because they seek social approval.

For instance, when you upload a photo, you tend to check your phone several times that day or keep refreshing your feed, this is just to satisfy your craving of wanting to know ‘how many more likes or comments have I received?’ This is sad but true. Being socially validated makes people happy and pushes them to seek more validation giving them a reason to keep checking their phones.

Technology advancements were only supposed to make life easy but somehow ended up as addictive tools. Originally when Steve Jobs created the first iPhone, his idea was to implement in it – a good music sound system. He didn’t have any social accounts or intended that a phone should be used for social purposes only.

Over the years, the digital world took a drastic change, and now here we are. When people were using Facebook on their laptops or desktops, they didn’t really check it too many times. But when the mobile device came into our hands, a small device that can be taken anywhere with us, came the actual problem where people started checking it compulsively. One notification bell was enough to get our hands on the device.

Our screen time and the amount of time spent on apps can be detected, all thanks to our technology. People aren’t feeling bad because they have these social accounts, they are more worried as to why they’re checking their phones a hundred times only to re-watch the things they already saw. They are feeling bad because they know it does not hold any value to them but why do they still keep checking the same thing again and again. People have started to seek value in low-grade social connections rather than high-quality real-life interactions.

People are afraid to seek solitude these days. Some alone time when we are all to ourselves with our thoughts, maybe at home, in a queue, at a park, or alone in a cafe, makes us uncomfortable. Why? Because our brain constantly needs some kind of input by checking our phone and we’ve made it so that staying in solitude is not an option. Anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem are proven to be the side-effects of social media. Handing a phone to a teenager is like handing them a cigarette, their brain cannot handle it. And then, there are more apps that promise to make us mindful, for instance, mediation apps which again have to do with using our phones! It’s like our world revolves around this small device.

The purpose of digital minimalism is to put our values first in our priority list, to interact and make connections with people in real life. Ten years ago, they didn’t need social accounts to make strong connections with people and I’m pretty sure they did better than our generation in relationships and life. Some insights I took off from Newport’s philosophy are:

  1. Focus on your core values in life.

  2. Practice self-control.

  3. Turning off notifications and changing phone screens to gray-scale are only temporary fixes. If you still check your phone after this, you need to invest your time in something better.

  4. De-clutter your digital space for 30 days. Keep only the apps that contribute to your values and wellness and of course, your professional life.

  5. Do more things that do not involve using your phone.

  6. Don’t fear missing out on social media, fear missing out on the more important things in your life.

I’m not completely against social media and I know it is a great platform to connect with friends whom you can’t meet regularly and also for entrepreneurs to make an identity for themselves and their businesses. At the end of the day, it boils down to how much better or worse it made your life. I’ve had my fair share of guilt for staying on my phone for hours and I’m working on it. So should you! Offline is peace of mind and where real happiness begins.

Take care!

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