In 2018, I had made a commitment with myself to deactivate my Facebook account permanently, as I felt technology (Facebook) had turned my life into a tragedy. Months before this decision, I couldn’t think of life beyond my Facebook account as I was enjoying the taste of instant gratification from it for my work. I used to quantify my happiness in terms of number of likes, comments and shares on my posts and pictures. Smartphone was virtually handcuffed with my right hand and it used to follow me everywhere like a shadow, be it in my bedroom or washroom. My life had got stuck into a vicious routine, like getting up early in the morning just to check out who had liked, shared, and commented on my previous post, then scrolling up and down unnecessarily on my timeline for the whole day, in checking out profiles of unknown people and then messaging till late night, only to sleep in early hours of dawn.
Till one fine morning, I felt like Facebook had pulled me into a quagmire, and I needed to get out of it quickly. So, my conscience began to knock at my brain and I started to question my dormant sanity, where I was heading in my life; answers came in negative. I began to feel like, smartphone was overriding my life and I began to look out for some permanent panacea to live a more productive life. Thus without a second thought, I deactivated my Facebook account, initially I felt like, I couldn’t sustain on my commitment of living a life away from the Facebook, as Facebook is always tempting and calling in the form of lightening pop up notifications and new features added every now and then, but with my firm commitment I haven’t looked back at it again till this point. Initially it was hard to adjust to life without Facebook, but slowly and steadily I started to acquaint myself without it and after some time it became my habit and I started reaping dividends out of this Facebook boycott. Life is really beautiful without Facebook, I have so much of time to think, work, write, read and sleep as if clock is ticking slowly for me and my life has turned into productive again.
Now without further blowing of my own trumpet let’s come to point that prompted me to write this write-up. Let’s talk about the philosophy of digital minimalism, the term coined by Carl Newport in his best-selling book sold under the same name. The story I have narrated above about my struggle with Facebook is going to complement his philosophy. We are living in an era of digital distractions in which we are being lured into this digital trap by carefully engineered digital screens by different digital media platforms to grab our maximum attention towards screens, as our time is equal to their money, more time we are going to spend on these digital medium platforms more will be the money they are going to make out of it, this is called attention economy and currently we are living in attention economy times. Humans have turned themselves into digital zombies, who use these digital medium mindlessly; from recent data it has been found that use of smartphone has doubled in just with few years and an average person tends to spend 3 to 4 hrs on smartphone and out of five minutes an average person spends on internet, one minute is reserved for social networking sites like Facebook, Insta, twitter snap chat and what not.
It has been noticed that after the introduction of touchscreens majority of the people tend to spend whole day watching smartphone screens and to get rid of this digital slavery, Newport came up with the concept of Digital minimalism to awaken and aware people about these digital distractions.
People prefer to use Facebook to stay connected with friends living in far off places, but it has been if two persons are sitting face to face with each other, they don’t talk to each other uninterrupted as they are more interested in looking at smartphone screens instead of looking at each other’s face. Digital connections have replaced physical conversations. Nowadays people talk to each other so much on social media that they are familiar about each other about everything and if they end up meeting each other they have nothing left to talk to each other. Thus, more digitally connected we are, more isolated we are in reality. So, we have to get rid of these distractions by following principles of digital minimalism. We must get rid of those apps which cause lot of distractions. Taking an occasional temporary break from social networking sites to avoid get addicted to them, stopping nonverbal debates on Social sites as often these debates yield more heat than light. Removing yourself from WhatsApp groups which are unstoppably flooding with useless messages. Deleting those apps from mobile which one could afford to open from laptop. Avoid using internet as source of news instead one should prefer to spend few bucks on buying newspapers and lastly if you are using social sites for temporary emotional relief, use it for more productive purposes like marketing to promoting business and doing something different from usual.
If we don’t follow these digital minimalism principles very soon smart phone companies will have to come up with cautious advisory message like one the written-on smoking products, it will read like smartphone is dangerous for mental health.