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Cal Newport on Why We'll Look Back at Our Smartphones Like Cigarettes

Digital minimalism

Digital minimalism

It means using technology with more intention and purpose.

It's a “philosophy of technology use” rooted in reclaiming control and intention back from the devices and platforms that have hijacked it.

 You figure out what's valuable to you.  And then you happily miss out on everything else.

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Cal Newport on Why We'll Look Back at Our Smartphones Like Cigarettes

Cal Newport on Why We'll Look Back at Our Smartphones Like Cigarettes

https://www.gq.com/story/cal-newport-digital-minimalism

gq.com

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Key Ideas

Techno-maximalism

It promtes the basic idea that technological innovations can bring value and convenience into your life.

It just looks at the positives. And it's view is more is better than less, because more things that bring you benefits means more total benefits. 

Putting FOMO into perspective

If you want to maximize the amount of value you feel in your life, you want to put as much of your time and effort as possible into the small number of things to give you huge rewards. 

When you think about it that way, fear of missing out looks like, just mathematically speaking, a really bad strategy.

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Technology, just like the mind, is a very good slave, but a bad master. The technologies by itself are life-giving and useful, but if we are spending the whole day on Twitter, fighting with whoever we don’t agree with, we are ruining our psychological health.

We tend to spiral into the news black hole for hours, but just looking at the front page of the New York Times or Washington Post once or twice a day should be enough.

Accidental Benefits Of Technology

Technology is neutral by itself, and how we use that tool matters. 

  • An email is a great tool, which completely transformed how an office works, though it wasn’t designed for offices.
  • Similarly, the Facebook Like button was designed as a shortcut to writing a good comment, but it unexpectedly turned out to be a tool to measure the popularity of a post.

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Digital minimalism

This philosophy is guided by the idea that we should be in control over what kinds of media we consume, not have our habits dictated to us by technology.

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Taking Leisure Seriously

Instead of defaulting into the low-quality obsessions that leave us wondering where the time has gone, we should cultivate high-quality hobbies that lead to lasting satisfaction.

Re-evaluate your relationship to technology:
  • First allow for a period of abstinence.
  • Follow this by a selective re-introduction of only those tools and technologies that pass a more rigorous cost-benefit analysis than you typically impose.
Addiction and Modernity

They go hand-in-hand.

Addiction seems to be the inevitable consequence of our culturally-created environment changing faster than our biologically-hardwired brains.

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Shockingly Unproductive
  • Studies show that employees spend more than five hours per day reading and replying to emailsWhile it may seem like urgent work, email is not the best kind of work.
Facilitate Deep Work

A few smart strategies that can be deployed:

  1. Installing pods for deep work while having common areas for collaborative work.
  2. Wearing headphones that are easily seen to signal that you are not to be disturbed.
  3. Turning your office into a library, following the same culture of quietness where everyone is hushed and respectful.
Email is not Real Work

Real work, by definition, should be rare, valuable and cognitively demanding.

Email does not check any of these boxes, and is, therefore, a pseudo work.

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