Digital Minimalism Revisited

About 3 weeks ago I wrote about Digital Minimalism and set a few goals for myself. Since then, I’ve been more thoughtful about my use of social media. I hated the fact that I found myself scrolling Twitter when I was sitting with my children. Not only is it dehumanizing to them, but I’m so much more easily irritated by the little things.

Do you find that to be true too? Sometimes the kids can seem like an interruption when I’m trying to read an article or catch up on social media. When, in fact, the social media is the interruption. I’ve realized for a while that I’m a much better mom when I put the phone away and just stay in the moment, but it was so easy to just pick up the phone and scroll when things got tough. I’d do it without even thinking and before I realized it — I was totally checked out.

I was so excited when Digital Minimalism was published. I’d read Deep Work by Newport and loved his message: stop getting distracted by the little things and stay focused on the big things.

The problem for me was that it felt like the little things on social media did matter. A lot. I had the dreaded fear of missing out (also known as FOMO) and had begun to believe that I needed Twitter to stay up to date on what was happening with all sorts of things: the news, the book world, random writers, and corgis. I was trapped without even being aware of it.

After reading Digital Minimalism, I decided to make a few changes. Here’s a quick update on how I’m doing with them:

Continue to cull my Instagram feed
I’ve been doing this while scrolling. It’s very subjective, but if I feel there’s a post by someone that I don’t have a connection with and it seems to be off-brand for minimizing my life, then I click “un-follow.” I know, I know — “off-brand for minimizing my life” could mean a million different things in any given second… but you know it when you see it.

It seems to be working. I continue to go to Instagram to check in on a few key people and then I get off. No mindless scrolling. I was on Instagram for 22 minutes last week, which is quite an improvement. The other 21 minutes of social networking in my report came from Pinterest, which is totally not social networking, but whatever. I don’t make up the categories within the app!

Take Twitter off my phone and and continue to cull my feed 
Twitter has been off of my phone since that post and I only check it four or five times a week — and even then only for a minute or two at a time. I still have a fear of missing out – what if I miss the most recent big joke? Well, do I really need to know that everyone is meming the lyrics to Gaston? While it’s fun, no. I don’t need that connection.

I guess that might be why I’d become addicted to Twitter – I wish I was a successful writer and a voracious reader and maybe following people on Twitter would get me closer to that. It doesn’t. And I keep thinking that I need Twitter to promote my blog. I don’t. It just distracts me from reaching my own goals – which are to:

Stay in the moment, write a few words every day, read a few words every day.

Simple. Right?

I’m never going to be successful or popular on Twitter. Or on Instagram. Or on any of those social media platforms. I just don’t have the voice for it — never have. I know that “not being popular” isn’t reason enough to not participate, but if I’m only connecting with a few people and I can connect with them more meaningfully on other platforms (through blogs, for example), then the cost is greater than the benefit.

Here’s What I’m Doing Right Now

To stay informed with the news
I’ve turned off all alerts except for Washington Post and NPR. I used Twitter to stay in the mix with the breaking headlines, but there’s only so many times that I can see the same headline shared. Sure, this time with a witty quip, but what is the cost? If I’ve had to scroll for 10 minutes for a good witty quip, is it worth it?

Looking for the best way to stay up to date in the publishing world
I don’t have a good answer here. The best I have is a quick daily check of Goodreads, but that is so commercial. But so is everything else — everyone is trying to sell me something. Even the books that are shelved in the “new arrivals” section at the library are there because of some serious marketing work. I’m going to keep looking for some great email lists or blogs with killer publishing news. I’ll share it with you when I find it. Or maybe you already have some good resources for me?!

Keep Twitter off of my phone
This has single-handedly changed my screen time life and is the best decision I’ve made for my sanity in a long time. It will take a real moment of weakness for this to change!

My Corgi fix
Google images, duh.

Constant culling seems to be the trick to a lot of things – keeping clean floors, keeping social media under control, and staying present in the moment. Constantly evaluating a thing’s usefulness as well as its cost in my life has been a new skill for me and is exhausting, but my goodness, it’s worth it!

Making eye contact with my children when they’re talking to me is something that is important to me. Having a real thought to share with my husband other than something that I read on Twitter is a key to our relationship. Giving my brain room to think, explore, and knock down its self-imposed walls is invaluable. But to do these things, I need space. And I need to put down that blasted phone!

Digital Minimalism is Cal Newport’s latest book in which he argues that all of the alerts, mindless scrolling, and instant sources of entertainment are making it more difficult to live the lives we want to live. Newport’s books are full of practical advice for people who want to get the most out of their “working” time to ensure that they can focus on the things that matter at home.


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