Digital Minimalism - Deepstash
Digital Minimalism

Digital Minimalism

Habits also apply to the digital realm. And in this realm, Cal believes in the following philosophy of use:

Each digital tool must have a certain purpose to allow yourself to use it, and under certain constraints.

This habit of heavy filtering of digital services arose from the belief that clutter is costly, and that optimization is important.


Spend Time Alone

As Blaise Pascal put it bluntly:

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Give your brain regular doses of quiet; alternate between solitude and connection, we as human beings need both to thrive. It is best to stay away from technology from time to time - take regular walks, alone, without distractions.

Nietzsche’s favorite activity was taking strolls:

“Only thoughts reached by walking have value.”

One other way to enjoy solitude and to discover your thoughts is to write letters to yourself, or keep a diary.

Living A More Fulfilling Life

There are many tips that can help you live a more fulfilling and less dependent on the digital. You can:

  • Join various communities;
  • Schedule to build or fix something every week or month;
  • Set up a calendar for seasonal leisure plans, objectives, and habits.
The Dunbar’s Number...

...represents a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with which we can interact meaningfully and regularly (i.e. maintain social relationships). This number can only be so high (between 100 and 250), so having thousands of online “friends” is misleading to our impression of social connection.

Strive to keep fewer, but more meaningful connections, and strive to consume less in this multimedia world, and enjoy what you do consume more.

In the end, it’s not about the technology, it’s about the quality of your life.

The Digital Declutter

There are three steps towards digital decluttering:

1. Define your technology rules

2. Take a thirty-day break from everything digital

3. Reintroduce digital products, one by one

Only after this cleansing and period of introspection will you truly figure out what parts of technology you deeply value and which are irrelevant to your life. After cherry-picking those select few services which will truly help you achieve your long-term goals, you also have to ponder on how you’re going to use it going forward to minimize its harms and maximize its values.

A Lopsided Arms Race

Seemingly small environmental factors can lead to big behavioral changes. And behavioral addictions - repeated, regular behaviors - are akin to substance addictions. We follow them subordinately and without much thought.

In order to prevent bad habits, we must fight our inner selves, or, as Plato’s chariot metaphor would say:

Our soul is a chariot reining two horses, our better nature and our baser impulses. We must strive to empower the former while subduing the latter.

Join the Attention Resistance

We’re living in an “attention economy”: gathering consumers’ attention and then repackaging and selling it to advertisers.

To remove yourself from this trade, remove social media apps from your phone, or limit your interaction with them.

Intermittent positive reinforcement

Intermittent positive reinforcement revolves around receiving rewards at an inconsistent rate (think of a slot machine) rather than receiving them as a guaranteed result of certain actions (if I do my homework, I will get an A).

It plays a big role in developing a habit, as rewards delivered unpredictably are more enticing to us than those delivered based on a known pattern.

Don’t Click “Like”

Us humans are wired to be social.

However, studies show that the more connected we are on social media, the more we are likely to feel lonely, because they take away from real socializing.

There needs to be connection, rather than just conversation. One tip to improve face-to-face communication is to share that you are going to be in the office, or at a coffee shop, at a certain date and time, and let everyone know that they can tag along.

Reclaim Leisure

Before giving up using addictive technology, set up meaningful and rewarding leisure activities to fill your schedule.

There are great benefits to choosing action over more traditional leisure activities, the so-called ”strenuous leisure”, or, as Theodore Roosevelt endorsed:

“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life.”

  • Use skill to produce valuable things;
  • Prioritize demanding activities over passive consumption;
  • Seek activities that require real-world, structured social interactions.
Intentionality... satisfying, and using only those services which feel like they provide real value is much more satisfying - and rewarding - than scrolling mindlessly through countless apps.

There is a law of diminishing returns in tech, too - a few services are important, even essential, but many more and you start to get lost in the noise and you can find yourself unable to focus on and prioritize what’s important. Not all things are worth your time, and they all have a cost - immediate, or in the long run, as Thoreau’s “new economics” pointed out.

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Make Technology serve only a supporting role in your life

“How do you simplify your digital life?” became very quickly the question of our generation. Between packed calendars, fulled out E-Mail inboxes, and the constant pull of social media and news it can feel like you really can't control your online time.

There is a particular rapid process to help you break your online bad habits and values - the digital declutter.

Two of the biggest innovations

Two of the biggest innovations of modern times are cars and airplanes. At first, every new invention looks like a toy. It takes decades for people to realise the potential of it.

  • Adolphus Greely, a brigadier general, was one of the first people outside the car industry to consider the usefulness of a "horseless carriage." He bought three cars in 1899 for the U.S. Army to experiment with. It was envisioned to be used as transportation of light artillery such as machine guns, to carry equipment, ammunition, and supplies.
  • The Wright brothers saw the prospects of their new flying machine to be used as a reconnoitering agent in a time of war. The U.S. Army purchased the first "flyer" in 1908.
Dr. Seuss

How did it get so late so soon?

It’s night before it’s afternoon.

December is here before it’s June.

My goodness how time has flewn.

How did it get so late so soon?