Review: Digital Minimalism


Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy WorldDigital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Did you enjoy Deep Work, but weren't sure how to implement the ideas, because the pull of distraction still seemed constant and hard to silence? Looking for more practical advice on how to break up with your constant need for distraction? Digital Minimalism is probably for you.

That's not to say you need to have read any of Newport's work before to benefit from this book. He spends the first section of the book, 80 pages or so, laying the groundwork for what he's arguing. The attention-based economy has the best minds and attention science on their side, and by unthinkingly using every new tool, toy, and app that comes along we are volunteering to give them our most precious resource - time - in exchange for what they're mainly after - money. This is not only a bad trade-off, it's also bad for our mental health and quality of life.

The remainder of the book is given over to practices by which one can join the "attention resistance," and embrace a view of technology that is conscious. Which is to say, you think about what you're using, why you're using it, and if what you receive from it is actually worth the cost. It all sounds commonsensical, but it's precisely the opposite of how the attention economy conglomerates want us to relate to their tools. Because using such tools mindfully will inevitably mean using them less (and sometimes removing them altogether).

I appreciate Newport's approach, because he is far from anti-technology. But he is social media skeptical, due to the fact that it is, considering its ubiquity, almost incomprehensibly bad at providing social connection or media quality. But it's really good at sucking minutes from your day and hours from your life.

All of this to say, I highly recommend the book. And I'm looking into flip phones.

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