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Digital Minimalism

Table of Contents

Review

I thought this book was only about social media. Probably just because that is the hot topic of the day, and it was forefront in my mind. I loved Deep Work so I bought Digital Minimalism and started reading, rather smugly, ready to pat myself on the back for having been able to restrain myself from social media use so well.

Of course the book is actually about "digital" minimalism, not just social media.

It dawned on me that without noticing, I have filled every second of my day with some sort of digital media.

solitude is about what’s happening in your brain, not the environment around you. Accordingly, they define it to be a subjective state in which your mind is free from input from other minds.

  • I wake, put on my headphones, and listen to a podcast while I run.
  • I drive to work (listening to a podcast in the car).
  • I arrive at work and open: slack, teams, skype, skype for business, work email, personal email.
  • At lunch, I take a walk (listening to headphones), call my partner, maybe read some articles in pocket/rss, etc
  • After work, driving to music or podcasts
  • At home, over dinner, we likely watch some TV
  • I read before bed
  • I fall asleep to a (boring) podcast

In the whole day, there are very, very few gaps where I am not stuffing something into my brain. Even those moments are generally spent with family, not in solitude. Solitude has become what happens when my headphones run out of battery.

I am a digital maximalist, to my surprise.

In the past, I have done some purges, cutting down the number of rss feeds and podcasts I follow to 50 each, removing old pocket articles, etc., but that was about making the feed less overwhelming, not reducing the amount of media I was actually consuming. It was about becoming more efficient in my maximalism.

In the book, Cal Newport explains his 'Digital Minimalism' philosophy. Talks about why it is necessary. Suggests a detox (no digital media for a month, then add back what you think is valuable), then gives some suggestions on how to use digital media well.

The book reminds me strongly of Marie Kondo actually (this is a good thing).

Digital Minimalism: A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.

He focuses heavily on why and how to use digital media with intention, instead of out of habit.

As with the Amish who find contentment without modern conveniences, an important source of Laura’s satisfaction with her smartphone-free life comes from the choice itself. “My decision [to not use a smartphone] gives me a sense of autonomy,” she told me. “I’m controlling the role technology is allowed to play in my life.” After a moment of hesitation, she adds: “It makes me feel a little smug at times.” What Laura describes modestly as smugness is almost certainly something more fundamental to human flourishing: the sense of meaning that comes from acting with intention.

He also doesn't really try and show that social media etc. is actively harmful using studies or correlations with suicide rates. Instead, he approaches it more from the angle that digital media crowds out real life interaction, that it is an inferior substitute, and that is why it should be avoided.

He is also pragmatic and suggests continuing to use those tools that provide value:

I’m pointing this out to push back on the idea that high-quality leisure requires a nostalgic turning back of time to a pre-internet era. On the contrary, the internet is fueling a leisure renaissance of sorts by providing the average person more leisure options than ever before in human history. It does so in two primary ways: by helping people find communities related to their interests and providing easy access to the sometimes obscure information needed to support specific quality pursuits.

Overall, I found this an effective book in making me reevaluate my media consumption.

You might already know some of the content, there are probably plenty of blog posts that cover the same concepts. This worked better. This is a kick up the pants type book. It shakes you out of your inertia.

Highlights

Loc: 271 The urge to check Twitter or refresh Reddit becomes a nervous twitch that shatters uninterrupted time into shards too small to support the presence necessary for an intentional life.

Loc: 307 willpower, tips, and vague resolutions are not sufficient by themselves to tame the ability of new technologies to invade your cognitive landscape—the addictiveness of their design and the strength of the cultural pressures supporting them are too strong for an ad hoc approach to succeed. In my work on this topic, I’ve become convinced that what you need instead is a full-fledged philosophy of technology use, rooted in your deep values, that provides clear answers to the questions of what tools you should use and how you should use them and, equally important, enables you to confidently ignore everything else.

Loc: 327 In part 1, I describe the philosophical underpinnings of digital minimalism, starting with a closer examination of the forces that are making so many people’s digital lives increasingly intolerable, before moving on to a detailed discussion of the digital minimalism philosophy, including my argument for why it’s the right solution to these problems. Part 1 concludes by introducing my suggested method for adopting this philosophy: the digital declutter.

Loc: 343 The second part of this book takes a closer look at some ideas that will help you cultivate a sustainable digital minimalism lifestyle.

Part 1 FOUNDATIONS

1 A Lopsided Arms Race

Loc: 407 these changes, in addition to being massive and transformational, were also unexpected and unplanned. A college senior who set up an account on thefacebook.com in 2004 to look up classmates probably didn’t predict that the average modern user would spend around two hours per day on social media and related messaging services,

Loc: 535 how tech companies encourage behavioral addiction: intermittent positive reinforcement and the drive for social approval. Our brains are highly susceptible to these forces. This matters because many of the apps and sites that keep people compulsively checking their smartphones and opening browser tabs often leverage these hooks to make themselves nearly impossible to resist.

Loc: 568 The whole social media dynamic of posting content, and then watching feedback trickle back unpredictably, seems fundamental to these services, but as Tristan Harris points out, it’s actually just one arbitrary option among many for how they could operate. Remember that early social media sites featured very little feedback—their operations focused instead on posting and finding information. It tends to be these early, pre-feedback-era features that people cite when explaining why social media is important to their life. When justifying Facebook use, for example, many will point to something like the ability to find out when a friend’s new baby is born, which is a one-way transfer of information that does not require feedback

Loc: 596 It also explains the universal urge to immediately answer an incoming text, even in the most inappropriate or dangerous conditions (think: behind the wheel). Our Paleolithic brain categorizes ignoring a newly arrived text the same as snubbing the tribe member trying to attract your attention by the communal fire: a potentially dangerous social faux pas.

Loc: 603 these services now make this process near automatic by using cutting-edge image recognition algorithms to figure out who is in your photos and offer you the ability to tag them with just a single click—an offer usually made in the form of a quick yes/no question (“do you want to tag …?”) to which you’ll almost certainly answer yes. This single click requires almost no effort on your part, but to the user being tagged, the resulting notification creates a socially satisfying sense that you were thinking about them. As Harris argues, these companies didn’t invest the massive resources necessary to perfect this auto-tagging feature because it was somehow crucial to their social network’s usefulness. They instead made this investment so they could significantly increase the amount of addictive nuggets of social approval that their apps could deliver

2 Digital Minimalism

Loc: 653 Digital Minimalism A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.

Loc: 655 The so-called digital minimalists who follow this philosophy constantly perform implicit cost-benefit analyses.2 If a new technology offers little more than a minor diversion or trivial convenience, the minimalist will ignore it. Even when a new technology promises to support something the minimalist values, it must still pass a stricter test: Is this the best way to use technology to support this value? If the answer is no, the minimalist will set to work trying to optimize the tech, or search out a better option.

Loc: 662 Notice, this minimalist philosophy contrasts starkly with the maximalist philosophy that most people deploy by default—a mind-set in which any potential for benefit is enough to start using a technology that catches your attention.

Loc: 716 The average Facebook user, by contrast, uses the company’s products a little over fifty minutes per day.

> Average!

Loc: 724 The reason I like Dave’s story, however, is what was enabled by his decision to significantly cut back on how much he uses these services. As Dave explained to me, his own father wrote him a handwritten note every week during his freshman year of college. Still touched by this gesture, Dave began a habit of drawing a new picture every night to place in his oldest daughter’s lunchbox. His two youngest children watched this ritual with interest. When they became old enough for lunchboxes, they were excited to start receiving their daily drawings as well.

Loc: 734 My argument for this philosophy’s effectiveness rests on the following three core principles:

Principle #1: Clutter is costly. Digital minimalists recognize that cluttering their time and attention with too many devices, apps, and services creates an overall negative cost that can swamp the small benefits that each individual item provides in isolation.

Principle #2: Optimization is important. Digital minimalists believe that deciding a particular technology supports something they value is only the first step. To truly extract its full potential benefit, it’s necessary to think carefully about how they’ll use the technology.

Principle #3: Intentionality is satisfying. Digital minimalists derive significant satisfaction from their general commitment to being more intentional about how they engage with new technologies. This source of satisfaction is independent of the specific decisions they make and is one of the biggest reasons that minimalism tends to be immensely meaningful to its practitioners.

> One and two remind me of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying

Loc: 779 Thoreau’s purpose in these tables is to capture precisely (not poetically or philosophically) how much it cost to support his life at Walden Pond—a lifestyle that, as he argues at length in this first chapter, satisfies all the basic human needs: food, shelter, warmth, and so on. Thoreau then contrasts these costs with the hourly wages he could earn with his labor to arrive at the final value he cared most about: How much of his time must be sacrificed to support his minimalist lifestyle? After plugging in the numbers gathered during his experiment, he determined that hiring out his labor only one day per week would be sufficient.

Loc: 797 Thoreau was able to satisfy all of his basic needs quite comfortably with the equivalent of one day of work per week. What these farmers are actually gaining from all the life they sacrifice is slightly nicer stuff: venetian blinds, a better quality copper pot, perhaps a fancy wagon for traveling back and forth to town more efficiently. When analyzed through Thoreau’s new economics, this exchange can come across as ill conceived. Who could justify trading a lifetime of stress and backbreaking labor for better blinds? Is a nicer-looking window treatment really worth so much of your life?

Loc: 814 Assume, for example, that your Twitter habit effectively consumes ten hours per week. Thoreau would note that this cost is almost certainly way too high for the limited benefits it returns. If you value new connections and exposure to interesting ideas, he might argue, why not adopt a habit of attending an interesting talk or event every month, and forcing yourself to chat with at least three people while there? This would produce similar types of value but consume only a few hours of your life per month, leaving you with an extra thirty-seven hours to dedicate to other meaningful pursuits.

Loc: 868 The reason the second principle of minimalism is so important is that most people invest very little energy into these types of optimizations. To use the appropriate economic terminology, most people’s personal technology processes currently exist on the early part of the return curve—the location where additional attempts to optimize will yield massive improvements. It’s this reality that leads digital minimalists to embrace the second principle, and focus not just on what technologies they adopt, but also on how they use them.

Loc: 931 The Amish, it turns out, do something that’s both shockingly radical and simple in our age of impulsive and complicated consumerism: they start with the things they value most, then work backward to ask whether a given new technology performs more harm than good with respect to these values.

Loc: 990 As with the Amish who find contentment without modern conveniences, an important source of Laura’s satisfaction with her smartphone-free life comes from the choice itself. “My decision [to not use a smartphone] gives me a sense of autonomy,” she told me. “I’m controlling the role technology is allowed to play in my life.” After a moment of hesitation, she adds: “It makes me feel a little smug at times.” What Laura describes modestly as smugness is almost certainly something more fundamental to human flourishing: the sense of meaning that comes from acting with intention.

Loc: 999 The sugar high of convenience is fleeting and the sting of missing out dulls rapidly, but the meaningful glow that comes from taking charge of what claims your time and attention is something that persists.

3 The Digital Declutter

Loc: 1,021 The Digital Declutter Process Put aside a thirty-day period during which you will take a break from optional technologies in your life. During this thirty-day break, explore and rediscover activities and behaviors that you find satisfying and meaningful. At the end of the break, reintroduce optional technologies into your life, starting from a blank slate. For each technology you reintroduce, determine what value it serves in your life and how specifically you will use it so as to maximize this value.

Loc: 1,104 A computer scientist named Caleb decided he could still listen to podcasts, but only on his two-hour-long daily commute. (“The thought of only listening to whatever the radio sent my way was too daunting for me,” he explained.)

> Podcasts count. As does pocket and feedly.

Loc: 1,138 This detox experience is important because it will help you make smarter decisions at the end of the declutter when you reintroduce some of these optional technologies to your life. A major reason that I recommend taking an extended break before trying to transform your digital life is that without the clarity provided by detox, the addictive pull of the technologies will bias your decisions. If you decide to reform your relationship with Instagram right this moment, your decisions about what role it should play in your life will likely be much weaker than if you instead spend thirty days without the service before making these choices.

Loc: 1,202 Once a technology passes this first screening question, it must then face a more difficult standard: Is this technology the best way to support this value? We justify many of the technologies that tyrannize our time and attention with some tangential connection to something we care about. The minimalist, by contrast, measures the value of these connections and is unimpressed by all but the most robust.

> TODO: Do this! Podcasts. Feedly. WeiXin. Youtube. Goodreads etc

Loc: 1,220 To allow an optional technology back into your life at the end of the digital declutter, it must: Serve something you deeply value (offering some benefit is not enough). Be the best way to use technology to serve this value (if it’s not, replace it with something better). Have a role in your life that is constrained with a standard operating procedure that specifies when and how you use it.

Part 2 PRACTICES

Loc: 1,376 As Kethledge and Erwin explain, however, solitude is about what’s happening in your brain, not the environment around you. Accordingly, they define it to be a subjective state in which your mind is free from input from other minds. You can enjoy solitude in a crowded coffee shop, on a subway car, or, as President Lincoln discovered at his cottage, while sharing your lawn with two companies of Union soldiers, so long as your mind is left to grapple only with its own thoughts. On the other hand, solitude can be banished in even the quietest setting if you allow input from other minds to intrude. In addition to direct conversation with another person, these inputs can also take the form of reading a book, listening to a podcast, watching TV, or performing just about any activity that might draw your attention to a smartphone screen.

Loc: 1,458 It became common, especially among younger generations, to allow your iPod to provide a musical backdrop to your entire day—putting the earbuds in as you walk out the door and taking them off only when you couldn’t avoid having to talk to another human. To put this in context, previous technologies that threatened solitude, from Thoreau’s telegraph to Storr’s car phone, introduced new ways to occasionally interrupt time alone with your thoughts, whereas the iPod provided for the first time the ability to be continuously distracted from your own mind.

Loc: 1,469 At the slightest hint of boredom, you can now surreptitiously glance at any number of apps or mobile-adapted websites that have been optimized to provide you an immediate and satisfying dose of input from other minds. It’s now possible to completely banish solitude from your life. Thoreau and Storr worried about people enjoying less solitude. We must now wonder if people might forget this state of being altogether.

Loc: 1,566 Simply put, humans are not wired to be constantly wired.

Loc: 1,595 To help you realize this cycle in your modern life, this chapter concludes with a small collection of practices—each of which offers a specific and effective approach to integrating more solitude into an otherwise connected routine. These practices are not exhaustive nor are they obligatory. Think of them instead as a look at the varied ways that people have succeeded in creating their own metaphorical cabin by the pond in an increasingly noisy world.

Loc: 1,599 PRACTICE: LEAVE YOUR PHONE AT HOME […] If you’re struggling at first, a useful compromise is to bring your phone where you’re going, but then leave it in your car’s glove compartment.

Loc: 1,691 Motivated by these historical lessons, we too should embrace walking as a high-quality source of solitude. In doing so, we should heed Thoreau’s warning that we’re not talking about a short jaunt for a little exercise, but honest-to-goodness, deep-in-the-woods, Nietzsche-on-the-slope-of-a-mountain-style long journeys—these are the grist of productive aloneness.

Loc: 1,707 In short, I would be lost without my walks because they’ve become one of my best sources of solitude. This practice proposes that you’ll find similar benefits by spending more time alone on your feet. The details of this practice are simple: On a regular basis, go for long walks, preferably somewhere scenic. Take these walks alone, which means not just by yourself, but also, if possible, without your phone. If you’re wearing headphones, or monitoring a text message chain, or, God forbid, narrating the stroll on Instagram—you’re not really walking, and therefore you’re not going to experience this practice’s greatest benefits.

PRACTICE: WRITE LETTERS TO YOURSELF

Loc: 1,746 This entry also gets credit for instigating a habit where every time I started a new Moleskine notebook, I would begin by transcribing my current list of values, underneath the heading “The Plan,” in the notebook’s first pages.

Loc: 1,756 My Moleskine notebooks are not exactly diaries because I don’t write in them on a regular schedule. If you flip through their pages, you’ll encounter an uneven pacing: sometimes I’ll fill dozens of pages in a single week, while other times many months might pass without any new notes. The uneventful year of 2006, during which I was mainly just putting my head down and trying to stay ahead of my graduate coursework, has no entries at all.

Loc: 1,760 they provide me a way to write a letter to myself when encountering a complicated decision, or a hard emotion, or a surge of inspiration. By the time I’m done composing my thoughts in the structured form demanded by written prose, I’ve often gained clarity. I do make a habit of regularly reviewing these entries, but this habit is often superfluous. It’s the act of writing itself that already yields the bulk of the benefits.

> Yes, same for me

5 Don’t Click “Like”

Loc: 1,808 To see some of these dynamics in action, let’s return to the first throw of the 2007 championship match described above. Right before the players begin their three count, the Brain says, “Let’s roll.” This seems innocuous, but as the play-by-play announcer notes, this is a “subliminal call” for his opponent to play rock (the idea of rolling primes the mind to think about rocks). After planting this seed to nudge his opponent toward rock, the Brain plays paper. The subliminal strategy, however, backfires. Land Shark notices it and guesses what the Brain is up to, so he plays scissors, beating the Brain’s paper and winning the throw.

Loc: 1,862 Lieberman and his collaborators devised a clever series of experiments to confirm this hypothesis. In one study, for example, they found that the default network lights up during downtime even in newborns. The importance of finding this activity in infants is that they “clearly haven’t cultivated an interest in the social world yet ….11 [The infants studied] cannot even focus their eyes.” This behavior must therefore be instinctual. In another study, researchers put (adult) subjects in a scanner and asked them to solve math problems. They discovered that when they gave the subjects a three-second break between problems—a duration too short for them to decide to start thinking about something else—the default network still fired up to fill the small gap, further indicating that this drive to think about social issues kicks in like a reflex.

> Default network seems to be contreversial, newish research: "It is also active when the individual is thinking about others, thinking about themselves, remembering the past, and planning for the future"

Loc: 1,958 certain social media activities, when isolated in an experiment, modestly boost well-being. The key issue is that using social media tends to take people away from the real-world socializing that’s massively more valuable. As the negative studies imply, the more you use social media, the less time you tend to devote to offline interaction, and therefore the worse this value deficit becomes—leaving the heaviest social media users much more likely to be lonely and miserable.

Loc: 2,046 Notice, in true minimalist fashion, conversation-centric communication doesn’t ask that you abandon the wonders of digital communication tools. On the contrary, this philosophy recognizes that these tools can enable significant improvements to your social life. Among other advantages, these new technologies greatly simplify the process of arranging conversation. When you unexpectedly find yourself free on a weekend afternoon, a quick round of text messages can efficiently identify a friend available to join you for a walk. Similarly, a social media service might alert you that an old friend is going to be in town, prompting you to arrange a dinner.

Loc: 2,075 I’m an advocate for deploying a conversation-centric approach for this purpose, because I fear any attempt to maintain a two-tier approach to conversation—combining digital communication with old-fashioned analog conversation—will ultimately falter. That being said, others might be stronger than I am when it comes to maintaining a healthy balance between these two interactive magisterium, so I’ll resist the urge for dogmatism on this point. The key is the intention behind what you decide, not necessarily its details.

Loc: 2,190 Fortunately, there’s a simple practice that can help you sidestep these inconveniences and make it much easier to regularly enjoy rich phone conversations. I learned it from a technology executive in Silicon Valley who innovated a novel strategy for supporting high-quality interaction with friends and family: he tells them that he’s always available to talk on the phone at 5:30 p.m. on weekdays. There’s no need to schedule a conversation or let him know when you plan to call—just dial him up. As it turns out, 5:30 is when he begins his traffic-clogged commute home in the Bay Area. He decided at some point that he wanted to put this daily period of car confinement to good use, so he invented the 5:30 rule.

Loc: 2,213 Coffee shop hours are also popular. In this variation, you pick some time each week during which you settle into a table at your favorite coffee shop with the newspaper or a good book. The reading, however, is just the backup activity. You spread the word among people you know that you’re always at the shop during these hours with the hope that you soon cultivate a rotating group of regulars that come hang out.

6 Reclaim Leisure

Loc: 2,272 more and more people are failing to cultivate the high-quality leisure lives that Aristotle identifies as crucial for human happiness. This leaves a void that would be near unbearable if confronted, but that can be ignored with the help of digital noise. It’s now easy to fill the gaps between work and caring for your family and sleep by pulling out a smartphone or tablet, and numbing yourself with mindless swiping and tapping. Erecting barriers against the existential is not new—before YouTube we had (and still have) mindless television and heavy drinking to help avoid deeper questions—but the advanced technologies of the twenty-first-century attention economy are particularly effective at this task.

Loc: 2,344 The FI community, of course, is not the first to discover the inherent value in active leisure. Speaking to the Hamilton Club in Chicago in the spring of 1899, Theodore Roosevelt famously said: “I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life.”12 Roosevelt practiced what he preached. As president, Roosevelt regularly boxed (until a hard blow detached his left retina), practiced jujitsu, skinny-dipped in the Potomac, and read at the rate of one book per day. He was not one to sit back and relax.

Loc: 2,366 "What? You say that full energy given to those sixteen hours will lessen the value of the business eight?17 Not so. On the contrary, it will assuredly increase the value of the business eight. One of the chief things which my typical man has to learn is that the mental faculties are capable of a continuous hard activity; they do not tire like an arm or a leg. All they want is change—not rest, except in sleep." This argument reverses our intuition. Expending more energy in your leisure, Bennett tells us, can end up energizing you more.

Loc: 2,411 Crawford is particularly eloquent in describing the unique satisfactions of the latter: They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth.21 He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, who has no real effect in the world. But craftsmanship must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away.

> Yes!

Loc: 2,418 In the absence of a well-built wood bench or applause at a musical performance to point toward, you can instead post a photo of your latest visit to a hip restaurant, hoping for likes, or desperately check for retweets of a clever quip. But as Crawford implies, these digital cries for attention are often a poor substitute for the recognition generated by handicraft, as they’re not backed by the hard-won skill required to tame the “infallible judgment” of physical reality, and come across instead as “the boasts of a boy.” Craft allows an escape from this shallowness and provides instead a deeper source of pride.

Loc: 2,527 The local new-mom boot camp, F3, and CrossFit are successful for the same reason as the Snakes & Lattes board game café: they are leisure activities that enable the types of energized and complex sociality that are otherwise rare in normal life.

Loc: 2,562 I’m pointing this out to push back on the idea that high-quality leisure requires a nostalgic turning back of time to a pre-internet era. On the contrary, the internet is fueling a leisure renaissance of sorts by providing the average person more leisure options than ever before in human history. It does so in two primary ways: by helping people find communities related to their interests and providing easy access to the sometimes obscure information needed to support specific quality pursuits.

> !

Loc: 2,719 We would do well to keep in mind Franklin’s lesson about joining. It’s easy to get caught up in the annoyances or difficulties inherent in any gathering of individuals struggling to work toward a common goal. These obstacles provide a convenient excuse to avoid leaving the comfort of family and close friends, but Franklin teaches us that it’s worth pushing past these concerns. Join first, he would advise, and work out the other issues later. It doesn’t matter if it’s a local sporting league, a committee at your temple, a local volunteer group, the PTA, a social fitness group, or a fantasy gamers club: few things can replicate the benefits of connecting with your fellow citizens, so get up, get out, and start reaping these benefits in your own community.

Loc: 2,847 The iPhone, and the imitators that soon followed, enabled the attention economy to shift from its historical position as a profitable but somewhat niche sector to one of the most powerful forces in our economy. At the core of this shift was the smartphone’s ability to deliver advertisements to users at all points during their day, as well as to help services gather data from these users to target those advertisements with unprecedented precision. It turns out that there remained vast reservoirs of human attention that traditional tools like newspapers, magazines, television shows, and billboards had been unable to tap.

Loc: 2,871 Assuming that you use Facebook, list the most important things it provides you—the particular activities that you would really miss if you were forced to stop using the service altogether. Now imagine that Facebook started charging you by the minute. How much time would you really need to spend in the typical week to keep up with your list of important Facebook activities? For most people, the answer is surprisingly small; somewhere around twenty to thirty minutes. The average Facebook user, by contrast, spends around 350 minutes per week on this company’s services

Loc: 2,897 My research on digital minimalism has revealed the existence of a loosely organized attention resistance movement, made up of individuals who combine high-tech tools with disciplined operating procedures to conduct surgical strikes on popular attention economy services—dropping in to extract value, and then slipping away before the attention traps set by these companies can spring shut. The

Loc: 2,903 If your personal brand of digital minimalism requires engagement with services like social media, or breaking news sites, it’s important to approach these activities with a sense of zero-sum antagonism. You want something valuable from their networks, and they want to undermine your autonomy—to come out on the winning side of this battle requires both preparation and a ruthless commitment to avoiding exploitation.

Loc: 2,907 PRACTICE: DELETE SOCIAL MEDIA FROM YOUR PHONE

Loc: 2,943 PRACTICE: TURN YOUR DEVICES INTO SINGLE-PURPOSE COMPUTERS

Loc: 2,989 If you want to join the attention resistance, one of the most important things you can therefore do is follow Fred Stutzman’s lead and transform your devices—laptops, tablets, phones—into computers that are general purpose in the long run, but are effectively single purpose in any given moment. This practice suggests that you use tools like Freedom to aggressively control when you allow yourself access to any website or app supported by a company that profits from your attention. I’m not talking about occasionally blocking some sites when working on a particularly hard project. I want you instead to think about these services as being blocked by default, and made available to you on an intentional schedule.

> Kindle is a good example, single-purpose by default.

Loc: 3,059 I can search for a certain topic, say Black Lives Matter, and then set a threshold in TweetDeck that allows me to listen to this topic, but only see tweets with 50 likes or retweets. I can then refine this and say just show me the verified accounts. Thresholding is just one type of advanced search allowed by TweetDeck, and TweetDeck is just one tool among many that allow this style of more advanced filtering (for this purpose, big companies often rely on expensive software suites that integrate with their customer relationship management systems).

Conclusion

Loc: 3,282 With time to spare on vacation, and miles of empty beach to wander (we arrived before the busy season), I decided to dedicate some thought to a simple question: If I were to write a book on this topic, what would it be like? After a few days of contemplative wandering, a compelling phrase popped into my head: digital minimalism.

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Last modified 2019-08-16 Fri 16:27. Contact max@maxjmartin.com