Practicing Digital Minimalism

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Progress in many directions leaves you where you’re at

I just finished the book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, boy let me tell you a story.

I remember growing up during the 90s and experiencing T.V., nothing about T.V. however frustrated me more than commercials. Sure there was the occasional commercial that featured some neat toy or pokemon but other than that for the most part it was “please shut up I want to watch Barney”.

Commercials were invasive to my experience with the medium of television. Needless to say once the internet took off I was an early adopter of internet based entertainment. I remember getting funny looks when I told people I didn’t have cable and didn’t plan on getting it in the late 2000s when I was first going out on my own.

I was also very excited about the introduction of tools such as adblock plus. With that, I could enjoy the media I liked with minimal distraction.

But then something happened…

Almost 2 years ago now ( in 2017 ) when I moved into a new apartment I decided to forgo installing internet in it.

My happiness has increased exponentially since then, and I’ve actually enjoyed a wonderful romantic relationship thanks to the growth I’ve experienced because of it.

I’ve always done a pretty decent job explaining the benefits of living without internet in your home, this book however really hit it all home.

Instead of paying attention of attention grabbing products, I was paying attention to myself.

What I Got From This Book

This book broke down the coming of the smartphone, and the impact it had on us as consumers, and the growth of the attention economy.

This book teaches you the value of your attention, and helps you understand that large media companies value your attention too.

Value it as in it’s a $5.7 Trillion Dollar Industry. Each of these companies are in some way involved in hooking and keeping your attention, whether it’s from the manufacturing of parts for technologies to support it or the attention grabbing infrastructure itself.

Every single one of us add dollars to that industry every time we scroll facebook, check tweets, search up google or check text messages.

A lot of this is of course good, but most of it is dividing your attention, making it nearly impossible to commit to doing anything fully that’s truly important to you.

For more details on how it hooks us I definitely recommend the book, but the key solution is to understand one of the core reasons why our attention is so hooked in the first place.

The Power Of Possibility

The innovation of the personal computer is that it’s not limited to one single task, it can perform anything you program it to do.

This is huge! We all get excited and hooked by all this possibility.

The issue however is possibility is not action or accomplishment, and we think we see value by simply having the opportunity to do something verses the act of actually doing it.

One of the solutions offered in the book is to be intentional of your technology.

Take 30 days off from it and rediscover your values and what truly makes you happy. Then, slowly re-integrate only the technology that helps you achieve and maintain your values.

I just launched this site using the Ghost CMS, and I am absolutely in love with it.

WordPress, the platform I usually use for maintaining sites, is infinite possibility in a couple of clicks.

More often than not, I find myself tweaking and developing the website instead of producing content, which is the point of the system in the first place.

In Ghost, there are limited themes and absolutely no plugins. If you want a custom feature you need to code it in yourself.

I like this, it limits my tinkering and keeps me focused on content. This site represents my graduation from being a tinkering addict to someone who is actually producing stuff that people can find useful.

In Closing

My life is going through a huge change right now. In my personal and professional circles I represent technology and the value it brings. I’m hoping that with my adoption of limiting my exposure to technology only to the extent that it’s useful will be helpful to those around me.

Thank you for reading, I hope you got something valuable from this. I monitor the comments here so if you have any thoughts feel free to leave them.

Take care!