Technology is really just a tool, and our tools are only as good (or as bad) as the person using them. In other words, it’s what we do with our tools that give them meaning. Technology is not inherently bad. But if you find yourself scrolling Instagram when you could be having a meaningful conversation with your partner, there might be a problem. Perhaps a little Digital Minimalism can help.
When it comes to social media, we can use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, whatever, to enrich our lives and the lives of others. These apps allow us to communicate and share in ways we’ve never been able to before. You’re able to keep in touch with family who live far away and check in on friends who you haven’t seen in a while.
On the flip side, social media can leave us feeling lost and alone and can take us out of the moment. If you find yourself reaching for your phone in social situations or if you just notice yourself getting swept up in the constant refreshing of your feed, you’re not alone. It’s become almost like a twitch, where we feel like we have to be constantly checking our emails and scrolling through meaningless streams of posts while ignoring the world around us. This can lead to feelings of overwhelm and disconnect.
What is Digital Minimalism?
Minimalism is about intention. People who consider themselves minimalists tend to be much more intentional in shaping their lives around things that bring meaning to them. Oftentimes, the intention is absent in our modern use of technology. Rather than being purposeful, we get sucked into the mindless swiping just to avoid boredom. Instead of being aware of what gets our attention, we’re letting everything in and assume only the best of it will stick – but it doesn’t.
The fact is, social media is designed to be addictive. It might sound crazy but most apps have taken inspiration from addicting casino games and rely on things like outrage and positive reinforcement to keep you coming back. To use technology as a minimalist, you need to be very aware of your relationship with your phone. In other words, as someone who uses technology, it’s your responsibility to ask important questions about how and why you use it.
This doesn’t mean that you have to completely give up your technology or even get rid of your apps. As aforementioned, social media can be great for communicating and self-expression. However, it does mean that you invite intention into your relationship with your phone. This can sometimes be unpleasant and hard work.
Digital Minimalism is all about reclaiming your power and control over what you let into your life. You can do so by selecting a small number of digital activities that strongly support the things you value. Then, you can happily miss out on everything else. Doesn’t that sound refreshing?
The first step is to clearly understand your values and then decide whether or not the time spent and feelings experienced when using technology is in alignment with those values. The likely answer is no. From here, you can do an optional technology detox, where you temporarily delete technology that would not harm or significantly disrupt the daily operation of your profession or personal life. This should be long enough for you to explore and rediscover activities and behaviors that you find satisfying and meaningful – probably around 30 days. At the end of this period, you can start to reintroduce your optional technologies back into your life, as long as you clearly understand the value it brings you and how you can use it to maximize that value. This will force you to be much more intentional and aware of your relationship with technology.
Want more tips? Read our article: How to take a break from your smartphone