… А в октябре как снег на голову выпал снег, кружась в хмуром сером небе своей белоснежной ажурной каруселью, путая карты, запутывая следы, лишая последней надежды на теплую и яркую осень, закутывая еще не отцветшие в саду кусты английских роз в свое тонкое кружевное сверкающее покрывало.
Я долго хотела прочитать про эту книгу. Ну как хотела… Я открывала ее, пролистывала до середины, пробежавшись по заголовкам, выборочно читая то, что может зацепить меня читать дальше, но так ничего и найдя, закрывала книгу, и так продолжалось несколько месяцев. Книга про цифровой минимализм в 2019? Are you serious? Но потом я наткнулась на нее в рейтинге Goodreads, где она занимает аж 7-е место в рейтинге Goodreads Best Non-Fiction of 2019 с оценкой 4.07. Я подумала: "Ну если книга занимает седьмое место в лучших нон-фикшн книг за этот год, значит, в ней есть все же что-то полезное и интересное, нужно лучше искать". И вы знаете, нашла.
О чем эта книга
Georgetown computer scientist Cal Newport's Deep Work sparked a movement around the idea that unbroken concentration produces far more value than the electronic busyness that defines the modern work day. But his readers had an urgent follow-up question: What about technology in our personal lives?
In recent years, our culture's relationship with personal technology has transformed from something exciting into something darker. Innovations like smartphones and social media are useful, but many of us are increasingly troubled by how much control these tools seem to exert over our daily experiences--including how we spend our free time and how we feel about ourselves.
In Digital Minimalism, Newport proposes a bold solution: a minimalist approach to technology use in which you radically reduce the time you spend online, focusing on a small set of carefully-selected activities while happily ignoring the rest.
He mounts a vigorous defense for this less-is-more approach, combining historical examples with case studies of modern digital minimalists to argue that this philosophy isn't a rejection of technology, but instead a necessary realignment to ensure that these tools serve us, not the other way around.
To make these principles practical, he takes us inside the growing subculture of digital minimalists who have built rich lives on a foundation of intentional technology use, and details a decluttering process that thousands have already used to simplify their online lives. He also stresses the importance of never clicking "like," explores the underappreciated value of analog hobbies, and draws lessons from the "attention underground"--a resistance movement fighting the tech companies' attempts to turn us into gadget addicts.
Digital Minimalism is an indispensable guide for anyone looking to reclaim their life from the alluring diversions of the digital world.
Мы подсажены на крючок современных технологий
In an open marketplace for attention, darker emotions attract more eyeballs than positive and constructive thoughts. For heavy internet users, repeated interaction with this darkness can become a source of draining negativity—a steep price that many don’t even realize they’re paying to support their compulsive connectivity.
Сейчас все чаще можно услышать о том, что цифровой мир очень выматывает. Нет, не то, чтобы с каким-то один конкретным сайтом или приложением было определенно не так. Как отмечают многие, дело в общем влияние современных технологий, который манипулируют нашим сознанием и влияют на наше настроение. Их проблема с их современными технологиями не в каких-то деталях, а в самом факте, что эти технологии давно вышли из их контроля. Очень немногие хотят проводить столько времени онлайн, но современные инструменты специально созданы для того, чтобы культивировать поведенческие зависимости. Именно они заставляют нас постоянно проверять свою ленту в твиттере, или обновлять Reddit, что становится настоящим нервным тиком.
Конечно, никто не подписывался на подобную потерю контроля над собой. Мы скачиваем то или иное приложение и заводим свой аккаунт в нем из-за хороших причин, но по иронии судьбы, именно эти ценности, ради которых вы завели эти аккаунты и начинают их обесценивать. Например, мы зарегистрировались на Facebook (Вконтакте), чтобы быть на связи со своими друзьями по всей стране, но все это в итоге заканчивается тем, что вы не можете поддерживать не перебиваемый несколькими паузами на просмотр уведомлений на своем смартфоне разговор со своими друзьями, сидящими напротив вас за столом.
Смартфоны, безграничный беспроводной интернет, различные цифровые платформы, созданные объединять биллионы людей стали уже привычными инновациями для нас. Мы живем в одну из самых лучших технологических эпох, но в то же время мы постепенно превращаемся в рабов своих цифровых девайсов.
We didn’t, in other words, sign up for the digital world in which we’re currently entrenched; we seem to have stumbled backward into it.
Because, let’s face it, checking your “likes” is the new smoking.
Правила цифрового минимализма
Правило #1: Беспорядок стоит дорого
Цифровые минималисты осознают, что захламление своего времени и внимания слишком большим количеством различных девайсов, служб, сервисов создает общий негативный фон, который перекрывает те преимущества, которые предоставляет каждое приложение в отдельности. Правило #2: Оптимизация важна Цифровые минималисты верят, что отдельная цифровая технология поддерживают только на первом шаге. Чтобы полностью использовать те преимущества, которые они дают, нужно обязательно тщательно продумать, как они ими пользуются.
Правило #3: Целенаправленность, которая удовлетворяет Цифровые минималисты получают удовлетворение от того, что они более целенаправленно используют технологии. Это удовлетворение не зависит от каких-либо особых решений, которые они принимают и это одна из главных причин, почему цифровой минимализм настолько многозначен для тех, кто его практикует. Аргументированность цифрового минимализма основывается на принятии трех этим правил.
Начните цифровой детокс с определения правила использования технологий
Цифровой детокс фокусируется в основном на использовании новых технологий, которые включают в себя приложения, сайты, различные инструменты, предлагаемые вашему вниманию через компьютер или экран смартфона. Вы также должны включить сюда видеоигры и стримминг видео в эту категорию.
Возьмите 30-дневную паузу от использования всеми теми технологиями, которые вы отнесли к категории "опциональные" - это значит то, что вы можете спокойно отказаться от них, не причиняя вреда или больших проблем своей профессиональной карьере или личной жизни. В некоторых случаях вы продолжите воздерживаться от использования опциональными технологиями, в других случаях мы можете установить специальные процедуры, когда и как использовать эти технологии в дальнейшем.
В конце этого шага вы останетесь со списком запрещенных технологий и тех, которые останутся действующими, с некоторыми прописанными вами правилами использования. Запишите их на отдельном листе и повесьте где-нибудь, где они всегда будут на виду каждый день. Четкость и ясность что вам можно и нельзя делать во время процесса цифрового детокса - залог вашего успеха.
Возьмите 30-дневную паузу
Итак, вы определили свои правила использования различных технологий. Следующий шаг цифрового детокса - их придерживаться в течении 30 дней. Конечно, поначалу жизнь без использования опциональных технологий может показаться вам достаточно непривычной и сложной. Ваш мозг уже выработал некоторые ожидания и привычки отвлечению на всевозможные развлечения, предлагаемые социальными сетями вашего смартфона, которые теперь нарушены правилами цифрового детокса. Эти ощущения первые несколько дней могут быть очень неприятными, но вы втянитесь! - пишет в своей книге Ньюпорт.
Этот шаг очень важен, потому что в дальнейшем после окончания процесса чистки организма цифрового дектокса он привносит ясность в ваш мозг и поможет вам посмотреть на технологии с другой стороны, заново познакомиться с ними в вашей жизни, и использовать их более продуктивно. Если вы решили пересмотреть свои отношения с Инстаграмом прямо сейчас, ваши решения о том, какую роль он занимает в вашей жизни будут слабее, чем после детокса, когда вы проведете 30 дней без этого приложения, чтобы более наглядно ощутить его ценность
Вновь откройте для себя технологии
STEP #3: REINTRODUCE TECHNOLOGY After your thirty-day break comes the final step of the digital declutter: reintroducing optional technologies back into your life. This reintroduction is more demanding than you might imagine. Some of the participants in my mass declutter experiment treated the process only as a classical digital detox—reintroducing all their optional technologies when the declutter ended. This is a mistake. The goal of this final step is to start from a blank slate and only let back into your life technology that passes your strict minimalist standards. It’s the care you take here that will determine whether this process sparks lasting change in your life. With this in mind, for each optional technology that you’re considering reintroducing into your life, you must first ask: Does this technology directly support something that I deeply value? This is the only condition on which you should let one of these tools into your life. The fact that it offers some value is irrelevant—the digital minimalist deploys technology to serve the things they find most important in their life, and is happy missing out on everything else. For example, when asking this first question, you might decide that browsing Twitter in search of distraction doesn’t support an important value. On the other hand, keeping up with your cousin’s baby photos on Instagram does seem to support the importance you place on family. Once a technology passes this first screening question, it must then face a more difficult standard: Is this technology the best way to support this value? We justify many of the technologies that tyrannize our time and attention with some tangential connection to something we care about. The minimalist, by contrast, measures the value of these connections and is unimpressed by all but the most robust. Consider our above example about following your cousin’s baby pictures on Instagram. We noted that this activity might be tentatively justified by the fact that you deeply value family. But the relevant follow-up question is whether browsing Instagram photos is the best way to support this value. On some reflection, the answer is probably no. Something as simple as actually calling this cousin once a month or so would probably prove significantly more effective in maintaining this bond. If a technology makes it through both of these screening questions, there’s one last question you must ask yourself before it’s allowed back into your life: How am I going to use this technology going forward to maximize its value and minimize its harms? A point I explore in part 2 is that many attention economy companies want you to think about their services in a binary way: either you use it, or you don’t. This allows them to entice you into their ecosystem with...
..some feature you find important, and then, once you’re a “user,” deploy attention engineering to overwhelm you with integrated options, trying to keep you engaging with their service well beyond your original purpose. Digital minimalists combat this by maintaining standard operating procedures that dictate when and how they use the digital tools in their lives. They would never simply say, “I use Facebook because it helps my social life.” They would instead declare something more specific, such as: “I check Facebook each Saturday on my computer to see what my close friends and family are up to; I don’t have the app on my phone; I culled my list of friends down to just meaningful relationships.” Pulling together these pieces, here’s a summary of this minimalist screening process. The Minimalist Technology Screen To allow an optional technology back into your life at the end of the digital declutter, it must: • Serve something you deeply value (offering some benefit is not enough). • Be the best way to use technology to serve this value (if it’s not, replace it with something better). • Have a role in your life that is constrained with a standard operating procedure that specifies when and how you use it. You can apply this screen to any new technology that you’re considering adopting. When you deploy it at the end of a digital declutter, however, it becomes particularly effective, as the preceding break from these technologies provides you with clarity on your values and confidence that your life doesn’t actually require that you slavishly stick with the digital status quo. If you’re like many of the participants in my mass declutter experiment, the role of technology in your life will look quite different after navigating the reintroduction step with the above screening process. An electrical engineer named De, for example, was surprised to discover during his digital declutter how addicted he had become to checking news online, and how anxious it was making him—especially politically charged articles. “I dumped all news during [my declutter] and loved it,” he told me. “Ignorance is truly bliss sometimes.” When the declutter concluded, he recognized that a complete news blackout was not sustainable but also recognized that subscribing to dozens of email newsletters and compulsively...
■ ■ ■ To summarize the main points about this step: • Your monthlong break from optional technologies resets your digital life. You can now rebuild it from scratch in a much more intentional and minimalist manner. To do so, apply a three-step technology screen to each optional technology you’re thinking about reintroducing. • This process will help you cultivate a digital life in which new technologies serve your deeply held values as opposed to subverting them without your permission. It is in this careful reintroduction that you make the intentional decisions that will define you as a digital minimalist.
■ ■ ■ Lincoln’s time alone with his thoughts played a crucial role in his ability to navigate a demanding wartime presidency. We can therefore say, with only mild hyperbole, that in a certain sense, solitude helped save the nation. The goal of this chapter is to argue that the benefits Lincoln received from his time alone extend beyond historical figures or those similarly faced with major decisions. Everyone benefits from regular doses of solitude, and, equally important, anyone who avoids this state for an extended period of time will, like Lincoln during his early months in the White House, suffer. In the pages ahead, I hope to convince you that, regardless of how you decide to shape your digital ecosystem, you should follow Lincoln’s example and give your brain the regular doses of quiet it requires to support a monumental...
...us. Tackled abstractly, the answer is not immediately obvious. The idea of being “alone” can seem unappealing, and we’ve been sold, over the past two decades, the idea that more connectivity is better than less. Surrounding the announcement of his company’s 2012 IPO, for example, Mark Zuckerberg triumphantly wrote: “Facebook . . . was built to accomplish a social mission—to make the world more open and connected.”…
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PRACTICE: LEAVE YOUR PHONE AT HOME The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, doesn’t allow you to use phones once the film begins. The glow of the screen distracts patrons from the cinematic experience, and the Alamo Drafthouse is the type of place where people respect cinematic experience. Most movie theaters, of course, politely ask moviegoers to put away their phones, but this particular venue takes this prohibition seriously. Here’s their official policy, lifted from their website: We have zero tolerance for talking or cell phone use of any kind during films. We’ll kick you out, promise. We’ve got backup. This policy is notable in part because it’s so exceptional in the movie business. The standard multiplex has implicitly given up on the idea that people can make it through a film without using their phone. Some are even considering formalizing this retreat. “You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone,” said the CEO of the AMC theater chain in a 2016 interview with Variety. “That’s not how they live their life.” He then revealed that the company is considering relaxing their existing (though largely ignored) cell phone bans. The failed fight against cell phones in movie theaters is a specific...
...consequence of a more general shift that’s occurred over the past decade: the transformation of the cell phone from an occasionally useful tool to something we can never be apart from. This rise of cell phone as vital appendage is supported by many different explanations. Young people, for example, worry that even temporary disconnection might lead them to miss out on something better they could be doing. Parents worry that their kids won’t be able to reach them in an emergency. Travelers need directions and recommendations for places to eat. Workers fear the idea of being both needed and unreachable. And everyone secretly fears being bored. What’s remarkable about these concerns is how recently we started really caring about them. People born before the mid-1980s have strong memories of life without cell phones. All of the concerns listed above still existed in theory, but no one worried much about them. Before I had my driver’s license, for example, if I needed someone to pick me up from school after sports practice, I’d use a payphone: sometimes my parents were home, and sometimes I had to leave a message and hope they got it. Getting lost and asking for directions was just a regular part of driving in a new city, and not really a big deal—learning to read maps was one of the first things I did after learning to drive. Parents were comfortable with the idea that when they were out for dinner and a movie, the babysitter had no easy way to reach them in the case of an emergency. I don’t mean to create a false sense of nostalgia for these pre–cell phone times. All of the above scenarios are somewhat improved by better communication tools. But what I do want to emphasize is that most of this improvement is minor. Put another way, in 90 percent of your daily life, the presence of a cell phone either doesn’t matter or makes things only slightly more convenient. They’re useful, but it’s hyperbolic to believe its ubiquitous presence is vital. This claim can be validated in part by turning to the surprisingly vibrant subculture of people who go extended periods without cellular communication. We know about this group because many of them publish essays describing their experience. If you read enough of these dispatches, a common theme emerges: life without a cell phone is occasionally annoying, but it’s much less debilitating than you might expect.
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PRACTICE: TAKE LONG WALKS In 1889, as Friedrich Nietzsche’s fame began to spread, he published a brief introduction to his philosophy. It was called Twilight of the Idols, and it took him only two weeks to write. Early in the book is a chapter that contains aphorisms on topics that interested Nietzsche. It’s in this chapter, more specifically in maxim 34, that we find the following strong claim: “Only thoughts reached by walking have value.” To underscore his esteem for walking, Nietzsche also notes: “The sedentary life is the very sin against the Holy Spirit.” Nietzsche was speaking from personal experience. As the French philosopher Frédéric Gros elaborates in his 2009 book on the intersection of walking and philosophy, Nietzsche, by 1889, was concluding a wildly productive decade in which he rebounded from failing health and wrote some of his greatest books. This period began ten years earlier, when Nietzsche was forced by recurring migraines, among other maladies, to leave his position as a university professor. He submitted his resignation in May 1879 and later that summer found himself in a small village on the Upper Engadine slopes. In the decade that stretched between his resignation and the publication of Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche survived on a series of small grants that provided enough funds for modest lodging and the ability to take the train back and forth between the mountains (where he would escape the summer heat) and the sea (where he would escape the winter cold). It was during this period, when Nietzsche found himself surrounded by some of Europe’s most scenic trails, that “he became the peerless walker of legend.” As Gros recounts, during his first summer on the Upper Engadine, Nietzsche began to walk up to eight hours a day. During these walks he would think, eventually filling six small notebooks with the prose that became The Wanderer and His Shadow, the first of many influential books he wrote during a decade powered by ambulation. Nietzsche, of course, is not the only historical figure to use walking to support a contemplative life. In his book, Gros also points to the example of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, a restless soul who set off on many long pilgrimages on foot, often short of money but rich in passion, or Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who once wrote: “I never do anything but when walking, the countryside is my study.”...
About Rousseau, Gros adds: “The mere sight of a desk and a chair was enough to make him feel sick.” The value of walking also suffuses American culture. Wendell Berry, another proponent of strolling, used long outings through the fields and forests of his rural Kentucky to clarify his pastoral values. As he once wrote: As I walk, I am always reminded of the slow, patient building of soil in the woods. And I am reminded of the events and companions of my life—for my walks, after so long, are cultural events. Berry was likely inspired by Thoreau, who is arguably America’s most strident booster of walking. In his famed Lyceum lecture, which was posthumously published in the Atlantic Monthly under the title of “Walking,” Thoreau labels this activity a “noble art,” clarifying: “The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise . . . but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day.”...
These historical walkers embraced the activity for different reasons. Nietzsche regained his health and found an original philosophical voice. Berry formalized his intuitive nostalgia. Thoreau found a connection to nature he thought fundamental to a thriving human life. These different reasons, however, are all served by the same key property of walking: it’s a fantastic source of solitude. It’s important here to remember our technical definition of solitude as freedom from input from other minds, as it’s exactly this absence of reaction to the clatter of civilization that supports all of these benefits. Nietzsche emphasized this point when he contrasted the originality of his walk-stimulated ideas with those produced by the bookish scholar locked in a library reacting only to other people’s work. “We do not belong,” he wrote, “to those who have ideas only among books, when stimulated by books.” Motivated by these historical lessons, we too should embrace walking as a high-quality source of solitude. In doing so, we should heed Thoreau’s warning that we’re not talking about a short jaunt for a little exercise, but honest-to-goodness, deep-in-the-woods, Nietzsche-on-the-slope-of-a-mountain-style long journeys—these are the grist of productive aloneness. I’ve long embraced this philosophy. When I was a postdoc at MIT, my wife and I rented a tiny apartment on Beacon Hill, about a mile’s walk across the Longfellow Bridge to the east side of campus where I worked. I made this walk every day, regardless of the weather. I would sometimes meet my wife after work on the banks of the Charles River. If I got there early, I would read. It was on these riverbanks that, appropriately enough, I first discovered the writings of Thoreau and Emerson.
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PRACTICE: DON’T CLICK “LIKE” Contrary to popular lore, Facebook didn’t invent the “Like” button. That credit goes to the largely forgotten FriendFeed service, which introduced this feature in October 2007. But when the massively more popular Facebook introduced the iconic thumbs-up icon sixteen months later, the trajectory of social media was forever changed. The initial announcement of the feature, posted by a corporate communications officer named Kathy Chan in the winter of 2009, reveals a modest motivation for the innovation. As Chan explains, many Facebook posts attracted a large number of comments that were all saying more or less the same thing; e.g., “Great!” or “I love it!” The “Like” button was introduced as a simpler way to indicate your general approval of a post, which would both save time and allow the comments to be reserved for more interesting notes. As I explored in the first part of this book, from these humble beginnings, the “Like” feature evolved to become the foundation on which Facebook rebuilt itself from a fun amusement that people occasionally checked, to a digital slot machine that began to dominate its users’ time and attention. This button introduced a rich new stream of social approval indicators that arrive in an unpredictable fashion—creating an almost impossibly appealing impulse to keep checking your account. It also provided Facebook much more detailed information on your preferences, allowing their machine-learning algorithms to digest your humanity into statistical slivers that could then be mined to push you toward targeted ads and stickier content. Not surprisingly, almost every other successful major social media platform soon followed FriendFeed and Facebook’s lead and added similar one-click approval features to their services. In the context of this chapter, however, I don’t want to focus on the boon the “Like” button proved to be for social media companies. I want to instead focus on the harm it inflicted to our human need for real conversation. To click “Like,” within the precise definitions of information theory, is literally the least informative type of nontrivial communication, providing only a minimal one bit of information about the state of the sender (the person clicking the icon on a post) to the receiver (the person who published the post). Earlier, I cited extensive research that supports the claim that the human brain has evolved to process the flood of information generated by face-to-face interactions. To replace this rich flow with a single bit is the ultimate insult to our social processing machinery. To say it’s like driving a Ferrari under the speed limit is an understatement; the better simile is towing a Ferrari behind a mule.
Motivated by the above observations, this practice suggests that you transform the way you think about the different flavors of one-click approval indicators that populate the social media universe. Instead of seeing these easy clicks as a fun way to nudge a friend, start treating them as poison to your attempts to cultivate a meaningful social life. Put simply, you should stop using them. Don’t click “Like.” Ever. And while you’re at it, stop leaving comments on social media posts as well. No “so cute!” or “so cool!” Remain silent. The reason I’m suggesting such a hard stance against these seemingly innocuous interactions is that they teach your mind that connection is a reasonable alternative to conversation. The motivating premise behind my conversation-centric communication philosophy is that once you accept this equality, despite your good intentions, the role of low-value interactions will inevitably expand until it begins to push out the high-value socializing that actually matters. If you eliminate these trivial interactions cold turkey, you send your mind a clear message: conversation is what counts—don’t be distracted from this reality by the shiny stuff on your screen. As I mentioned before, you may think you can balance both types of interaction, but most people can’t. Some worry that this sudden abstention from social media nudges will annoy people in their social circle. One person I mentioned this strategy to, for example, expressed concern that if she didn’t leave a comment on a friend’s latest baby picture, it would be noted as a callous omission. If the friendship is important, however, let the concern about this reaction motivate you to invest the time required to set up a real conversation. Actually visiting the new mom will return significantly more value to both of you than adding a short “awww!” to a perfunctory scroll of comments. If you couple this push toward more conversation with a blanket warning to your circle that you’re “not using social media much these days,” you’ll effectively insulate yourself from most complaints this policy might create. The person cited above, for example, ended up bringing a meal to her new-mother friend. This one act strengthened the relationship and increased well-being more than a hundred quick social media reactions could have. Finally, it’s worth noting that refusing to use social media icons and comments to interact means that some people will inevitably fall out of your social orbit—in particular, those whose relationship with you exists only over social media. Here’s my tough love reassurance: let them go. The idea that it’s valuable to maintain vast numbers of weak-tie social connections is largely an invention of the past decade or so—the detritus of overexuberant network scientists spilling inappropriately into the social sphere. Humans have maintained rich...
.and fulfilling social lives for our entire history without needing the ability to send a few bits of information each month to people we knew briefly during high school. Nothing about your life will notably diminish when you return to this steady state. As an academic who studies and teaches social media explained to me: “I don’t think we’re meant to keep in touch with so many people.” To summarize, the question of whether or not you continue to use social media as a digital minimalist, and on what terms, is complicated and depends on many different factors. But regardless of what final decisions you make along these lines, I urge you, for the sake of your social well-being, to adopt the baseline rule that you’ll no longer use social media as a tool for low-quality relationship nudges. Put simply, don’t click and don’t comment. This basic stricture will radically change for the better how you maintain your social life.
Установите время приема звонков
PRACTICE: HOLD CONVERSATION OFFICE HOURS For over a century, the telephone has provided a way to engage in high-quality conversation over long distances. This remarkable achievement helped satisfy social cravings in an age where we no longer spent our whole lives in tight-knit tribes. The problem with phones, of course, is the inconvenience of placing calls. Without being able to see the person you’re about to interrupt with a request to chat, you have no way of knowing whether or not your interaction will be well received. I still vividly remember my childhood anxiety when placing calls to friends—not knowing who from their family would pick up and how they would feel about the intrusion. With this shortcoming in mind, we should perhaps not be surprised that as soon as easier communication technologies were introduced—text messages, emails—people seemed eager to abandon this time-tested method of conversation for lower-quality connections (Sherry Turkle calls this effect “phone phobia”). Fortunately, there’s a simple practice that can help you sidestep...
...these inconveniences and make it much easier to regularly enjoy rich phone conversations. I learned it from a technology executive in Silicon Valley who innovated a novel strategy for supporting high-quality interaction with friends and family: he tells them that he’s always available to talk on the phone at 5:30 p.m. on weekdays. There’s no need to schedule a conversation or let him know when you plan to call—just dial him up. As it turns out, 5:30 is when he begins his traffic-clogged commute home in the Bay Area. He decided at some point that he wanted to put this daily period of car confinement to good use, so he invented the 5:30 rule. The logistical simplicity of this system enables this executive to easily shift time-consuming, low-quality connections into higher-quality conversation. If you write him with a somewhat complicated question, he can reply, “I’d love to get into that. Call me at 5:30 any day you want.” Similarly, when I was visiting San Francisco a few years back and wanted to arrange a get-together, he replied that I could catch him on the phone any day at 5:30, and we could work out a plan. When he wants to catch up with someone he hasn’t spoken to in a while, he can send them a quick note saying, “I’d love to get up to speed on what’s going on in your life, call me at 5:30 sometime.” His close friends and family members, I assume, have long since internalized the 5:30 rule, and probably feel more comfortable calling him on a whim than they do other people in their circles, as they know he’s available then and always happy to take their call. This executive enjoys a more satisfying social life than most people I know, even though he works in demanding technology start-ups that take up a lot of his time. He hacked his schedule in such a way that eliminated most of the overhead related to conversation and therefore allowed him to easily serve his human need for rich interaction. Perhaps not surprisingly, I want to propose here that you follow his lead. ■ ■ ■ This practice suggests that you follow the aforementioned executive’s example by instating your own variation of his conversation office hours strategy. Put aside set times on set days during which you’re always available for conversation. Depending on where you are during this period, these conversations might be exclusively on the phone or could also include in-person meetings. Once these office hours are set, promote them to the people you care about. When someone instigates a low-quality connection (say, a text message conversation or social media ping), suggest they call or meet you during your office hours sometime when it is convenient for them. Similarly, once office hours are in place, it’s easy to reach out proactively to people you care about and invite them to converse...
...problematic. As we explored in part 1 of this book, the psychological forces that lead us to compulsively use technology are typically best understood as moderate behavioral addictions—which can make technology very alluring when it’s around, but aren’t nearly as severe as chemical dependency. This explains why this distress is often described as more diffuse and abstract than the strong and specific cravings felt by a substance addict going through classic withdrawal.
If you want to succeed with digital minimalism, you cannot ignore this reality. If you begin decluttering the low-value digital distractions from your life before you’ve convincingly filled in the void they were helping you ignore, the experience will be unnecessarily unpleasant at best and a massive failure at worse. The most successful digital minimalists, therefore, tend to start their conversion by renovating what they do with their free time—cultivating high-quality leisure before culling the worst of their digital habits. In fact, many minimalists will describe a phenomenon in which digital habits that they previously felt to be essential to their daily schedule suddenly seemed frivolous once they became more intentional about what they did with their time. When the void is filled, you no longer need distractions to help you avoid it. Inspired by these observations, the goal of this chapter is to help you cultivate high-quality leisure in your own life. The three sections that follow each explore a different lesson about what properties define the most rewarding leisure activities. These are followed by a discussion of the somewhat paradoxical role new technology plays in these activities, and then a collection of concrete practices that can help you get started cultivating these high-quality pursuits.
We might tell ourselves there’s no greater reward after a hard day at the office than to have an evening entirely devoid of plans or commitments. But we then find ourselves, several hours of idle watching and screen tapping later, somehow more fatigued than when we began. As Bennett would tell you—and Pete, Liz, and Teddy would confirm—if you instead rouse the motivation to spend that same time actually doing something—even if it’s hard—you’ll likely end the night feeling better. Pulling together these different strands, we identify our first lesson about cultivating high-quality leisure.
Займитесь чем-то своими руками
Leisure Lesson #1: Prioritize demanding activity over passive consumption.
ON CRAFT AND SATISFACTION Any conversation about high-quality leisure must eventually touch on the topic of craft. In this context, “craft” describes any activity where you apply skill to create something valuable. To make a fine table out of a pile of wood boards is an act of craft, as is knitting a sweater from a skein of yarn or renovating a bathroom without the help of contractors. Craft doesn’t necessarily require that you create a new object, it can also apply to high-value behaviors. Coaxing a pleasing song out of a guitar or dominating a game of pickup basketball also qualifies. These definitions of craft can also apply to the digital world, where activities like computer programming or video gaming similarly require skill, but we should put an asterisk next to this final category for now—we’ll return to it soon and unpack some of its complexities. My core argument is that craft is a good source of high-quality leisure. Fortunately, when it comes to supporting this argument, treatises on the value of craft are numerous—starting with John Ruskin and the Arts and Crafts movement, and continuing through the modern maker community, there have been thousands of books and articles written on the topic. For our narrow purposes, a good starting place is Gary Rogowski, a furniture maker based in Portland, Oregon. In 2017, Rogowski published a book titled Handmade, which...
craftsmanship must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away. In a culture where screens replace craft, Crawford argues, people lose the outlet for self-worth established through unambiguous demonstrations of skill. One way to understand the exploding popularity of social media platforms in recent years is that they offer a substitute source of aggrandizement. In the absence of a well-built wood bench or applause at a musical performance to point toward, you can instead post a photo of your latest visit to a hip restaurant, hoping for likes, or desperately check for retweets of a clever quip. But as Crawford implies, these digital cries for attention are often a poor substitute for the recognition generated by handicraft, as they’re not backed by the hard-won skill required to tame the “infallible judgment” of physical reality, and come across instead as “the boasts of a boy.” Craft allows an escape from this shallowness and provides instead a deeper source of pride. With these advantages established, we can now return to our earlier asterisk on the claim that purely digital activities can also be considered craft. There’s clearly an argument to be made that skilled digital behaviors generate satisfaction. I made this point in my book Deep Work, where I noted that a deep activity like writing a piece of computer code that solves a problem (a high-skill effort) yields more meaning than a shallow activity like answering emails (a low-skill effort). This being said, however, it’s also clear that the specific benefits of craft cited here are grounded in their connection to the physical. While it’s true that a digital creation can still generate the pride of accomplishment, both Rogowski and Crawford imply that activities mediated through a screen exhibit a fundamentally different character than those embodied in the real world. Computer interfaces, and the increasingly intelligent software running behind the scenes, are designed to eliminate both the rough edges and the possibilities inherent in directly confronting your physical surroundings. Typing computer code into an advanced integrated development environment is not quite the same as confronting a plank of maple wood with a handheld plane. The former misses both the physicality and sense of unlimited options latent in the latter. Similarly, composing a song in a digital sequencer misses the pleasures that come from the nuanced struggle between fingers and steel strings that defines playing a guitar well, while fast twitching your way to victory in Call of Duty misses many dimensions—social, spatial, athletic—present in a competitive game of flag football. Because this chapter is about leisure—that is, efforts you voluntarily undertake in your free time—I’m going to propose that...
PRACTICE: JOIN SOMETHING Benjamin Franklin, who was naturally gregarious, instinctually understood the argument I made earlier about the importance of structured social interactions. Acting on this instinct, however, required hard work for this future founding father. When Franklin returned from London to Philadelphia in 1726, he faced a barren social life. Having grown up in Boston, Franklin had no family roots in his adopted home, and his skepticism of religious dogma eliminated the option of joining a ready-made community through the church. Undeterred, he decided he would simply start the social organizations he desired from scratch. In 1727, Franklin created a social club called the Junto, which he describes as follows in his autobiography: I had form’d most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which we called the Junto; we met on Friday evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss’d by the company; and once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject he pleased. Inspired by these meetings, Franklin created a scheme in which the Junto members would contribute funds toward buying books that all members could use. This model soon grew beyond Franklin’s Friday evening gatherings, leading him in 1731 to write the charter for the Library Company of Philadelphia, one of the first subscription libraries in America. In 1736, Franklin organized the Union Fire Company, one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in America and a much-needed service given the flammability of colonial-era cities. By 1743, as his interest in science grew, Franklin organized the American Philosophical Society (which still exists today) as a more efficient way to connect the smartest scientific minds in the country. These efforts in creating new social organizations also succeeded in gaining him the contacts needed to access long-existing clubs. To name a notable example, Franklin was invited in 1731 to join the local Masonic lodge. By 1734, he’d risen to the rank of grand master—a fast rise that underscores his dedication to the group. Perhaps most amazingly, all of this social activity took place before his retirement from the printing business in 1747, which, in Franklin’s recounting,...
PRACTICE: DELETE SOCIAL MEDIA FROM YOUR PHONE Something big happened to Facebook starting around 2012. In March of that year, they began, for the first time, to show ads on the mobile version of their service. By October, 14 percent of the company’s ad revenue came from mobile ads, making it into a small but nicely profitable piece of Mark Zuckerberg’s growing empire. Then it took off. By the spring of 2014, Facebook reported that 62 percent of its revenue came from mobile, leading the technology website The Verge to declare: “Facebook is a mobile company now.” This statement has continued to prove accurate: by 2017, mobile ad revenue rose to 88 percent of their earnings, and is still climbing. These Facebook statistics underscore a trend true of social media more generally: mobile pays the bills. This reality has important implications for the attention resistance. It emphasizes that the smartphone versions of these services are much more adept at hijacking your attention than the versions accessed through a web browser on your laptop or desktop computer. This difference is due in part to the ubiquitous nature of smartphones. Because you always have the phone with you, every occasion becomes an opportunity to check your feeds. Before the mobile revolution, services like Facebook could only monetize your attention during periods when you happened to be sitting at your computer. There’s also, however, a more ominous feedback loop at play. As more people began to access social media services on their smartphones, the attention engineers at these companies invested more resources into making their mobile apps stickier. As discussed in the first part of this book, some of these engineers’ most ingenious attention traps—including the slot machine action of swiping down to refresh a feed, or alarm-red notification badges—are mobile-only “innovations.” Pulling together these pieces of evidence points to a clear conclusion: if you’re going to use social media, stay far away from the mobile versions of these services, as these pose a significantly bigger risk to your time and attention. This practice, in other words, suggests that you remove all social media apps from your phone. You don’t have to quit these services; you just have to quit accessing them on the go.
PRACTICE: USE SOCIAL MEDIA LIKE A PROFESSIONAL Jennifer Grygiel is a social media pro. I don’t mean this in the colloquial sense that they (Jennifer prefers the pronoun “they/their” to “she/her”) are good at using social media. I mean instead that Jennifer makes a living from an expert understanding of how to extract maximum value from these tools. During the rise of the Web 2.0 revolution, Jennifer was the social business and emerging media manager at State Street, a global financial services firm headquartered in Boston. Jennifer helped the company build an internal social network that enabled employees around the world to collaborate more efficiently, and established State Street’s social listening program—allowing them to more carefully monitor references to “State Street” amid the noise of typical social media chatter (a task, Jennifer told me, that’s made particularly challenging when your company’s name is found on thousands of road signs across the country). From State Street, Jennifer moved to academia to become an assistant professor of communication, specializing in social media, at the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Jennifer now teaches a new generation of communication professionals how to maximize the power of social media. As you might expect, given this career history, Jennifer spends a fair amount of time using social media. What interests me more than the total amount of time that Jennifer spends on social media is the details of how they use it. If you ask Jennifer about these habits, as I did while researching this chapter, you’ll discover that social media professionals like Jennifer approach these tools differently than the average user. They seek to extract large amounts of value for their professional and (to a lesser extent) personal lives, while avoiding much of the low-value distraction these services deploy to lure users into compulsive behaviors. Their disciplined professionalism, in other words, provides a great example for any digital minimalist looking to join the attention resistance. With this in mind, the remainder of this practice describes Jennifer’s social media habits. You don’t have to exactly mimic this particular mix of strategies, but this practice asks that you consider applying a similar level of intention and structure to your own engagement with these services.