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"Digital Minimalism" by Cal Newport

5 Sep 2019

 

Cell phones have become so intertwined in our lives, we can’t even fathom the days when we did not have them and applications such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat help us connect with people in ways that we could have never imagined. Should we embrace digital domains without reservation or should we tread intentionally? Cal Newport explains the art of knowing how much is just enough and how a new concept called ‘digital minimalism’ is helping people live more focused lives in an increasingly noisy world.

 

In this article, I review "Digital Minimalism" by Cal Newport. Click play to see my honest Book Review. Be sure to also subscribe to be automatically entered to win FREE tea/books/stuff during Tea End Blog Give-Aways. Already subscribed? Tell a friend!

 

BOOK STATS

Title: Digital Minimalism

Page Count: 256

Author: Cal Newport

Published Date: 2019

Publishing Company: Portfolio Penguin

Type: Hardcover

 

WHAT IS SOLITUDE?

 

Starting from page 92, Cal Newport explains what he means by the term solitude. Newport uses the example of a respected judge by the name of Raymond Kethledge “…who relies on long periods alone with his thoughts to write his famously sharp legal opinions…” (Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, pg. 92 ¶ 1) and who co-wrote a book entitled, “Lead Yourself First” which summarizes the importance of being alone with your thoughts.

 

“Many people mistakenly associate this term (solitude) with physical separation…however, solitude is about what’s happening in your brain, not the environment around you…You can enjoy solitude in a crowded coffee shop, on a subway car…so long as your mind is left to grapple only with its own thoughts.” - (Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, pg. 93 ¶ 1, 2)

 

CONSOLIDATE TEXTING: A METHOD WORTH TRYING

 

Cal Newport describes a method he calls, ‘consolidate texting’, in the fifth chapter of Digital Minimalism entitled, “Don’t Click Like”. He argues that being constantly accessible to your friends and family through texting can prevent you from truly being able to step away from your devices in order to be more productive in the real world. Instead of interacting with family and friends through social media “likes” and comments, Newport suggests that “…you keep your phone in Do Not Disturb mode by default. In this mode, text messages become like emails: if you want to see if anyone has sent you something, you must turn on your phone and open the app.” (Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, pg. 157 ¶ 2)

 

You then choose a day and time to check your text messages and respond to them. You can even inform your family and friends of the day and time that you do so. I like this concept because it prevents having extended conversation through texting which can really make you a prisoner to your cell phone and prevent you from being focused on the present.

 

THINGS AREN'T WHAT THEY USED TO BE...

 

So much has changed since smartphones have stepped on the scene. In my opinion, being readily accessible and always connected comes with a price, a price that we may not really be willing to pay once we see how expensive it is! Take a look at a list of just a few side effects that professionals have observed in some individuals ever since smart phones have taken over our lives:

 

  • 'Phantom pocket vibration syndrome’; a phenomenon where one believes that their cell phone is vibrating in their pocket causing the person to constantly reach for it

  • Blurred vision; the small lit screens put a lot of strain on our eyes and have increased the occurrences of blurred vision even in the youth

  • Brain cancer; the radio frequencies and electromagnetic fields emitted by smartphones can have adverse effects on the body and can trigger the development of brain cancer cells

  • Less sleep; whether we are looking at our phone screens until the wee hours of the night or we are, unknowingly, being perturbed in our sleep by the waves emitted from smartphones as they constantly ping, our sleep is being interrupted causing adverse effects

  • Anxiety and depression amongst the youth; young people find it hard to successfully cope with the addictive nature of social media and smartphone applications as well as the constant feedback they receive through them leaving their brain overstimulated and causing anxiety and depression

 

I hope you enjoyed my Book Review of "Digital Minimalism" by Cal Newport! I think that if you have a cell phone and if you use social media this book should already be in your shopping cart. In the words of Newport himself, “Technology is intrinsically neither good nor bad. The key is using it to support your goals and values, rather than letting it use you.

 

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What are some changes that you've noticed ever since smartphones came on the scene?

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