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.
In 2018 I had made a commitment to myself to deactivate my Facebook account permanently. I felt that technology (Facebook) had turned my life into 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 in a vicious routine of getting up early in the morning just to check out who had liked, shared and commented on my latest post, then scrolling up and down unnecessarily on my timeline the whole day, checking out profiles of unknown people, and then messaging till late night until sleep finally arrived in the early hours of dawn.
I felt stuck in a quagmire and badly wanted to get out of it. My conscience began to knock and I started to question my sanity. Where was I heading in my life? The answers seemed to be frightening. I began to feel like smartphone was dominating my life and I began to look for some panacea, some way out. One day, 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 Facebook. It was always tempting me and calling out to me in the form of 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. It was hard to adjust to life without Facebook, but slowly and steadily I started to manage without it and after some time I started reaping dividends of this boycott.
Life is really beautiful without Facebook. I have so much of time to think, work, write, read and sleep. It is as if the clock is ticking slowly for me and my life has turned productive again.
Now, without further blowing my own trumpet, let’s come to the point that prompted me to write this article. Let’s talk about the philosophy of digital minimalism, the term coined by Carl Newport in his best-selling book of the same name. The story I have narrated about my struggle with Facebook attests to his philosophy. We are living in an era of digital distractions in which we are being lured into a digital trap by carefully engineered digital screens of different digital media platforms to grab our maximum attention. As our time is equal to their money, the more time we spend on these digital platforms, the more the money they 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 media mindlessly. Recent data shows that use of smartphone has doubled in just a few years and an average person tends to spend 3 to 4 hrs every day on smartphone and out of every five minutes that an average person spends on the internet, one minute is reserved for social networking sites like Facebook, Insta, Twitter, Snapchat and bla bla.
It has been noticed that after the introduction of touchscreens, the majority of the people tend to spend the whole day watching smartphone screens. To be rid of this digital slavery, Newport came up with the concept of Digital Minimalism.
People prefer to use Facebook to stay connected with friends living in far-off places, but it has been seen that when two persons are sitting face to face with each other, they don’t talk to each other as they more interested in looking at their smartphone screens instead of each other’s face. Digital connections have replaced physical conversations. Nowadays people talk to each other so much on social media that if they end up meeting each other they have nothing left to say to each other. Thus, more digitally connected we are, the 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 too many distractions. Take an occasional temporary break from social networking sites to avoid getting addicted to them, and stop non-verbal debates on social sites as often these debates yield more heat than light. Remove yourself from WhatsApp groups which are unstoppably flooding with useless messages. Delete those apps from your mobile which you can easily open on your laptop. Avoid using internet as source of news and spend a few bucks on newspapers. And lastly, if you are using social sites for temporary emotional relief, use it for more productive purposes, like marketing to promote your business or doing something different from the usual.
If we don’t follow these digital minimalism principles, very soon smartphone companies will have to come up with cautious advisory messages like the one written on smoking products: SMARTPHONE IS DANGEROUS FOR MENTAL HEALTH.