Kelly's Reviews > Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
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bookshelves: non-fiction

Earlier this year, author Roni Loren blogged about her 30-day social media break, and credited Cal Newport's books, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World and Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World for the greater part of her amazing productivity during that time. I found her experiment truly inspiring, particularly as for the earlier part of this year, I was feeling overwhelmed by the demands on my time, and exhausted by the effort of maintaining a social media presence.

I'd had four titles release in quick succession (one a month) in the latter half of 2018, and was working my way toward the release of Purple Haze. Generally, I enjoy interacting with friends and readers on Facebook, in the few groups I'm active in and on my personal timeline. I try hard not to spam any of these places with news of my upcoming releases and have always tried to maintain a consistent activity level so that when I do talk about my books, the post isn't a serious departure from "what Kelly posts about." Writing is an integral part of my life, therefore it's a part of my timeline.

I've always had a difficult relationship with social media, though. I often have to make myself go online and do the thing. I assumed it was because I was old and more extroverted than introverted. I like spending time with people. I also prefer to converse face-to-face, where I can read facial cues and body language. I'm often confused by the tone (or lack thereof) of text messages. Like most older people I know, I use a lot of emojis when texting, because they help intonate. That's me grimacing and smiling and winking. Even while texting, I'm still trying to tell you with my face how I feel about this.

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World explained a lot of my difficulties with texting and my ambivalence toward the true value of social media. There are times when interacting with the people in what I call my Facebook Book Club immeasurably brightens my day. On the flip side, I often close the Facebook tab feeling depressed about my writing career. I've been reminded how many other writers are releasing a book this month and how much better they're doing (ratings, number of reviews, traction with readers, random reader posts telling everyone how much they love the book). I can never tell how I'm going to feel after being online.

The solution? Make more deliberate choices. One of the practices Newport recommends is to remove social media from your phone. I've tried this before with limited success, but after reading this book, I feel better prepared for it. Facebook can wait until I get home and I often forget to check Twitter anyway. I'll keep Instagram, but I intend to use it more spontaneously, rather than try to think of something to post.

What I really got out of this book, aside from a strategy to reduce my time spent mindlessly scrolling and perhaps taking a hit to my delicate writerly ego, is what to do with the time I gained. I had vague ideas of wanting to draw again, of reducing my TBR pile. Of watching more movies at home (like I used to do), instead of half-hour TV shows that I only half watch while I'm scrolling through Facebook. I want to pay more attention to my offline life, and the only way to effectively do that is to step away.

I also really enjoyed the historical anecdotes and wealth of scientific information. Honestly, even if you don't feel the need to minimalize your digital life, this book is worth the read simply for the history of social media and how it's designed to hijack your spare time.
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Reading Progress

June 6, 2019 – Started Reading
June 6, 2019 – Shelved
June 14, 2019 – Shelved as: non-fiction
June 14, 2019 – Finished Reading

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