Cal Newport Has An Answer For Digital Burnout

Writer Cal Newport says you should become a “digital minimalist” — someone who only uses social media technology that helps achieve priorities in life.

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Most of us are “digital maximalists;” we adopt technology that might benefit us, without considering the cost. Sometimes that cost is simply time taken away from other things that might be more valuable. Time spent scrolling Instagram is not time spent reading books.

So many good points for me to think about here.

Host Ezra Klein says there probably isn’t a waking minute where he isn’t receiving some kind of input, talking to people or social media or listening to podcasts. Newport points out this is a recent phenomenon, even 10 years ago before the advent of smartphones, you HAD to spend some idle time.

Newport says our brains just need isolated time to process information that has come in through the day.

He describes isolation as time spent without receiving the thoughts of other people. Counter-intuitively, that means a person sitting alone in a cabin in the woods reading a book is not isolated, but a person sitting in a crowded subway car can be. I’ve felt that distinction in airports. Maybe that’s one reason I actually like airports.

Newport recommends before you start reducing social media from your life drastically, you have a plan to fill the time.

I found this podcast inspiring, and I’ve already taken a couple of baby steps. I do a lot of automated social media and blog updates; it’s dead simple to automate social media so you’re posting several times a day, every day, even when you’re not manually doing it. While listening to the podcast (ironically while walking the dog, which could be ideal isolation time!), I stopped to reconfigure those tools from my phone (more irony!) to cancel updates on the weekends. That will quiet things down on those days.

Additionally, new rule: No smartphone in the bathroom.

Those are very small steps, but journey of a thousand miles, etc.

I need to use social media for work and I enjoy it too, but I spend far too much time on it than is healthy for me.

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