Digital Minimalism – Review

img_0719The moment I saw the cover for this book, I knew I had to pick it up. I often find myself overwhelmed by technology. While others seem at ease holding a conversation, scheduling an Uber, and texting 3 different friends, my mind struggles to keep up with one task at a time. I feel strained and exhausted by information overload. I want to be on social media less and in the real world more. Yet, when ten different people are needing ten different things in one moment, how are we to keep up, if not for technology?


The key to living well in a high tech world is to spend much less time using technology.

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.

Since this book released, I’ve seen many negative reviews berating this book on bookstagram. Yet, I think it’s important to examine the source of the reviews here. As a bookstagrammer myself, it’s easy to get sucked into the black hole of beautifully cozy book pictures and chatting with fellow book lovers. The next time you look up, 2 hours have vanished in a flash. The internet is addictive, and like the addicts some of us are, it’s hard to admit we have a problem. Earlier this year I decided to take stock of my social media usage, you may remember my post titled “Ugly Instagram“, where I came to a few realizations about how the internet environment was affecting me. Since then, I’ve drastically reduced the amount of time I spend online. Some of the things I’ve found helpful were even mentioned in this book, like turning off social media notifications and creating set times to check my online accounts. These tools and others mentioned in this book have helped the level of overwhelm I feel on a daily basis, allowing me to reclaim pockets of time that were whittled away online. Still, I feel that addictive pull urging me to log in and scroll.

In many ways, I’m technologically inept. It took a weekend away in Richmond, VA to learn how to use the AirDrop feature on my phone. I’m sure there are plenty of features I don’t know how to use, but I’m still severely dependent upon my smartphone. I was hoping this book would allow me to evaluate ways to manage that dependence on an even deeper level. You see, my husband doesn’t have a cell phone at all. He is the essence of what this book is about. I see how stressfree his life is, how much free time he’s able to claim, and how little the pings, dings, and rings affect him. When someone isn’t accessible, people find someone else to bother. And I’m a little envious.

Cal Newport did an exceptional job of relaying the information in this book in a highly interesting way. It’s rare that I find a nonfiction book I can’t stop thinking about. Since I’ve finished reading the book, I’ll notice things that were mentioned in the writing in my daily life, sparking thoughts and ideas. I especially loved the use of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden as a prime comparison for the Digital Minimalism philosophy. Thoreau’s writings are some of my all-time favorites, sparking a sense of wonder and motivation in me to live a simpler life. Why not apply the same principals to the modern world that often constrains us in the tightest boxes while forcing us to believe we have ultimate freedom? The first time Thoreau’s name was mentioned, I was sold.

Furthermore, I appreciated the depth in which Newport was able to detail how deeply our fast-paced, hyper-connected society is affecting our mental health and physical well -being. Depression and anxiety are at all-time highs, especially in our teens and young adults and yet we can’t seem to correlate that with our social media consumption. We truly aren’t able to understand the effects of smartphones on our overall health because they are still relatively new inventions. How much of our attention, concentration, and self-worth are these tools diminishing?

There are so many thought-provoking aspects of this book, I could discuss it for days. It made a profound impact on my thinking and reaffirmed many things I already knew. Most importantly, however, this book is not attacking anyone for their smartphone use. It’s simply asking us to evaluate our needs for our own lives and adjust in a way that will benefit our lifestyle. If you’re like I was and feeling a sense of constant overwhelm, I think this book is worth a purchase. I honestly think it could benefit every single smartphone user if read with an open mind. I highly recommend it!

Rating: 4 stars.

Purchase on Amazon.


Social Media:
Facebook | Twitter | InstagramBlogLovin’ |Goodreads

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Carol says:

    These thoughts are convicting! 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very apt post. I totally agree with you regarding information overload. I have cut my digital use greatly over the past year and it’s been wonderful . Honestly, if it weren’t for about three apps (none bring social media other than WordPress) I would gladly go back to a flip phone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading it! I have been on a social media fast for this whole month, with the exception of a short amount of time on facebook every weekday for work, and it has been a game changer. I have picked up so much time that was wasted on social media and put it to use in better ways. I’m so glad this book was written to encourage others to be open to these changes. It’s refreshing to know others see the problems social media has made in our lives.
      Thanks so much for commenting!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad to have found your account. Cheers to gaining more time from stepping back from social media 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for your encouragement!! I’m glad it’s going well for you too!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s