Big Idea: What makes digital tech addictive isn’t what makes it useful
Source: Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
More: Many tech companies operate in the “attention economy” where your time equals their money. These companies invest a lot of resources in keeping your eyeballs on their products, on keeping your attention. But while this means more money for them, it’s behaviorally addictive for you, keeping you from more meaningful social connections and work.
Cal Newport isn’t against technology, but he’s critical of the uncritical way we have adopted it. Social media does have value for some people, but not compared to the time the average person is putting into it. Newport’s suggestion is to start with our core values and then only adding in digital technology as it pertains to those core values, replacing those hours on line with more life-giving tasks.
Why is this interesting to me: I sense in myself that psychological addiction and I don’t like its effect on my life.
Critique: While Newport doesn’t write from a Christian perspective, his emphasis on core values, meaningful leisure, social engagement, and the practice of solitude resonates deeply with key tenants of the Christian tradition. I think many Christians would be more effective in their spiritual lives if they adopted his Digital Minimalism philosophy. Personally, this has been a year of making adjustments in how I engage or don’t engage online.
Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World