Digital Minimalism [Cal Newport] P76

Post Length: 5 min

In Review: Digital Minimalism

Author: Cal Newport

Length: 6 hrs 59 min

Reco: ya [5/5 bananas]

"Your world is the outcome of what you pay attention to." - Newport


They were tradesman, I was a day laborer with zero training in finish work and painting.  The first task on my own, mix a bucket of plaster by hand.

Big problem, I had never done this before ... so I asked my boss:

Zoli, if I mix this wrong, would you rather it be too thick, or too thin?

Bandi, neither.  I want it just right.  

I will never forget that moment.

Behind what I asked was how I was feeling ... Which side of wrong would you rather me be on?!  Without knowing what just right meant at the time, I was trying to make doing it wrong acceptable because they could make it right.

I had to deal with my image in real life, I have since had to with my digital life, too.  What am I allowing in my life digitally that is effecting who I am becoming?

Facebook, Insta, Snap, and LinkedIn are all fighting for time.  Willpower is a finite resource, every notification and check in eats that up.  This is important to take serious, because I know the mission at hand will require everything I've got.

In Deep Work, Cal Newport addressed the attention economy.  In this book, he goes deeper into having a philosophy on digital interaction ... Digital Minimalism.

"Don't click, don't comment." - Newport

The 'Any Benefit' mentality is the common argument for being on every platform available.  If there is any benefit at all, then it's better to keep it.

In the attention economy, platforms capture my attention, sell that to marketers, who sell me their products.  The more time I invest somewhere, the more likely I will spend money in that space.

To keep me going back, they have created value loops.  If I post a picture, facial recognition will ask me if I want to tag my friends ... pretty harmless and next to zero effort.  This initiates the loop.  They get a notification they weren't expecting, so they look ... prompting a like and a comment.  I now see someone liked my picture, so I check to see who.  I click on their newsfeed, read an article about melting ice caps, and see an add on the shoes I wanted last week ... sold.  WTF?!

We are up against mega budgets that are in a race to the bottom of our brain stem.  Knowing about it doesn't mean it isn't happening.  To start fighting back, here's a list to work through to process your digi state ...

Clutter is costly / Will power is finite, clear out tech you don't want to wear it down

Optimization is important / How to set it up, settings and functions needed

Intentionality is satisfying / How to engage with it, when you use it


"Great creative minds think like artists but work like accountants." - David Brook

Most of these tools for driven people are used to make connections.  I got to a point that I didn't want general connections, only personal introductions to the right people.

It has been nearly three years ago that I left Facebook, LinkeIn, Insta and Snapchat.  I had people say I will be back ... people worry that I was missing out ... and people tell me I wouldn't be able to do my job and connect without them ...

Since then, I have much closer connections and business opportunity.  My digital philosophy is, if it isn't a catalyst for who I am committed to becoming, it's out.  The any benefit mentality brought with it a deep sense of loneliness that has since ceased.  I am free to be me without comparison, and be there for others in real life without judement.  Nobody sees my life except a handful of people, and those are the richest connections I have.

Look at your tools.  Check if you have anything mixed in solely for margin.  Find the right consistency for the work at hand.  Not too much, not too little, but just right.

Love, Ando

Ando McCall