Digital Declutter Experiment

15 Jan 2019 - Vivian Hir

Like most weekends, I would passively consume information by surfing the internet about stupid things, like the news. I would feel drained, exhausted, and confused why I even used the computer in the first place. Sometimes, I felt like I was controlled by the computer. This would consume around 3 hours of my entire week. I would beat myself up, wondering why was I wasting time on things that really didn't matter. I was sick of it and wanted a better life.

Inspired by Cal Newport, I started participating in the 30-day digital declutter near the end of 2018. Cal Newport's idea about digital minimalism comprises 3 parts. The first part was to take a break from optional technologies. Although I don't use social media, which is an optional technology that Newport criticizes the most, some other optional technologies I do includes reading blogs, watching YouTube, searching random things online, and messaging with my friends. The second part was to identify what really matters in life, which include hobbies and personal goals. These goals should be accomplished within the whole month. For me, that would be playing a new piece on the piano or reading 4 books. Last but not least, the third part is to reintroduce technologies that are NECESSARY to achieve your goals. I haven't finished the 30-day challenge, so that question will be answered by the end of January.

It has only been the first day, but my life has been much better. I feel like time is slower and I have some control over it. My mind is more clear and I am actually doing things that matter in my life. Now, I am reading a book instead of wasting time on the computer. Somehow, it feels like the less time I spend on the computer, the happier I feel. This reminds me of the new movement of JOMO, which is the joy of missing out. I feel relieved that I don't have daily anxieties that used to remind me to check trivial stuff. I am not saying that we should go back to the old days and give up using any form of digital technology. What I am saying is that we should only use technology that is intentional and related to our goals and values. For instance, if you want to learn a new subject that would require listening to videos online, this would be a form of essential technology because the benefits of watching lectures outweigh the downsides. To end this post, my question for you is this: is digital technology interfering with your personal goals and values? If so, how are you going to change that?

Reference: Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport (February 2019)

Vivian Hir is a high school student who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her blogs can be found here. Constructive feedback is appreciated.