One of the episodes of You are not so smart podcast was discussing about the Search Effect, which is a cognitive bias of how one feels himself/herself more intelligent than actually he/she’s just because we could search for answers online. This is the age of Internet with loads and loads of content, just one click or touch or tap away. That also is the primary reason for something called ‘Information Overload’ or ‘Infoxication’ where every day we are presented with an abundant amount of Information that we end up dumping in our valuable memory space.
The only (or probably, the only way I know) to handle this Information Overload is embracing Internet Minimalism (which I first came across in Cal Newport’s blog)
So what’s Digital Minimalism?
“Digital minimalism is a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding these tools) add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise, and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life.” — Cal Newport
Loosely coupling this with Steve Jobs’s definition of Focus, I’d like to put it as:
‘Internet Minimalism means saying No to the hundred other good digital assets that there are.”
How to get started with Digital Minimalism?
I know, It’s a lot easier to preach than practice. This is a time when Millennials flaunt the number of social media accounts they have got and to be a digital minimalist in the same time period is no easy thing. But remember, That’s essentially why it’s important to be a minimalist because everyone else likes being overloaded while you’re not. Here I’d like to list down a few action points to get started with Digital Minimalism:
Good Bye Facebook Newsfeed:
This is the very first step to start with because Facebook’s Newsfeed is one of the most potent infoxications that you’d come across online.
A recent comment on HN follows:
I didn’t delete my account but I let it go dormant about 4 years ago. Don’t miss it a bit. Social media is all about making you feel bad.
Its a platform for people with low self esteem to dream about what their lives could have been. For older folks to remember the past. For the average guy/gal to keep tabs on old flames.
And most importantly a place for jackasses and rich people with various complexes to show the world how great their lives are.
And Facebook is great at figuring out your weakness. For me for example, Facebook became a window for re-imagining my life in college.
No thanks. The trip down memory lane is fun every once in a while but the old picture catalog in the closet has morphed into an insidious entity, always beckoning you back. My phone vibrates, someone posted a new picture of you from 5 years ago and 50 people like it. Remember that day? All those people. Dont you?
F*** that, I’m done being screwed with by a platform designed to give you your fix.
You can give as many excuses to stay on the platform, that’s your choice to stay back and bury Digital Minimalism, but if you want give yourself a chance to overcome this addiction (Adam Alter says so), start it with deactivating your FB account. For those who use Facebook Messenger as the primary Instant Messenger, We’ll get there.
Twitter is not a great product (nor I am biased towards Jack Dorsey) to be on it, but it’s a fact there’s no better online source than Twitter for breaking news. Let it be Earthquake or AWS Downtime, Twitter is still the boss (even though Investors are skeptical). Does it mean that you have the full liberty of enjoying the happiness of pulling to refresh your Twitter feed? Heck No! It means you’ve got to bring down your number of Followings to less than 50, this making hard choices based on your priorities (asking yourself why are you on that platform — is it to listen to Mr. Trump or is it to know when AWS is down?)
Instant Messenger * n where n is less than or equal to 1:
It’s just simply waste of time having so many different Instant Messenger — FB Messenger for Friends, Whatsapp for Family, Telegram for Groups, Slack for Organization (sorry can’t remove this as it’s company policy) and what-not Messenger for what-not purpose. Ideally, Email is still available. Yes, it’s not as instant as IMs neither it comes with Blue Ticks or R-marks, but it does help in conversational communication and we’ve also got SMS and Calls if anything more urgent comes up. So make up your mind and stick to only one IM on your device.
Only Reading Source:
Ignore any other reading source you’ve got and just get onto this. Hacker News — news.ycombinator.com (Front Page): the age-old news board is a very good gateway for well-curated high quality tech & non-tech reading content mix.
A Little More:
While only those above mentioned should be driving our Internet usage, a certain few things could also add more value depending upon how controlled the usage could be:
- Stack Exchange Discussions
- Product Hunt
- Q&A sessions on Quora
- Well-written Long Articles on Medium
- Blogs like Farnam Street, other specific personal/individual blogs (that don’t post articles every x minute) based on your interest
Even though these don’t have to be part of the daily Digital Life, These can add a decent value if sipped in occasionally (like once in a week/fortnightly).
“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.” — Jackie French Koller.