In the past, I’ve tried to detach myself from Instagram. Once a year, I spent a whole month without it, and I am always genuinely grateful for that experience. After that month, I have no desire to go back to Instagram. But after a few weeks, everything goes back to the way it was, and I fell back into my old patterns of behaviour.
This year, I made an ineffective attempt to set a limit of 30 minutes for Instagram and Snapchat on my iPhone. This means every day, after using one of the two apps for 30 minutes, I receive a notification: “Time limit reached.” And every day, I dismiss that notification with the “No limit today” button. I could say I’m fooling myself. It’s amusing how I tried to control myself and yet effortlessly ignore that limit.
The only thing that might have helped a little is turning off notifications from WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Instagram. At least I don’t have the urge to grab my iPhone every time something appears on the screen. But it doesn’t really make a difference because I still unlock my darn phone too often, as if it’s a matter of life or death, opening Instagram first to refresh my feed and check for new notifications.
“Based on my experience with these topics, it’s hard to reform your digital life by applying tips and tricks alone. The problem is that small changes are not sufficient to solve our big problems with new technologies. The underlying behaviours we hope to change are deeply rooted in our culture and, as I have argued, are supported by powerful psychological forces that drive our basic instincts. To regain control, we must go beyond small corrections and instead, fundamentally redesign our relationship with technology.”
So, I need a completely new philosophy of technology use that provides clear rules for which services I use and to what extent. I’m genuinely curious to see how well I adapt to Cal Newport’s philosophy if I miss anything, or how my life will change.
Online time should be reduced to a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that support matters important to us. The remains of our digital lives should be happily abandoned.
Abandoning the rest of our digital lives? I’m not sure if I can do that. So, for now, I will definitely give up anything unnecessary. But somehow, I really enjoy social interaction with my friends on Instagram.
Digital minimalists recognize that cluttering their time and attention with too many devices, apps, and services creates a negative balance that can outweigh each point’s small benefits when considered individually.
Digital minimalists believe that choosing a particular technology that supports something valuable to them is only the first step. To truly unlock its full potential, it’s necessary to consider how that technology should be used carefully.
Digital minimalists experience great satisfaction through their overall commitment to handling new technologies more intentionally. This source of fulfilment is independent of the specific decisions they make and is one of the main reasons why digital minimalism tends to be highly meaningful for its practitioners.
To return to a more conscious everyday life with less unnecessary social media use, Newport recommends a process called digital decluttering to restructure and regain control of our digital lives.
- Uninstalling Instagram and Snapchat from my smartphone.
- Consuming only informative content on Netflix and YouTube.
- Turning off WhatsApp notifications.
- Checking emails only once a day.
Honestly, I don’t think I could miss anything truly vital.
After all, my brain generates these thoughts… but I’m also the person who can hear those thoughts. So many questions arise when we stop constantly looking at the data clutter of our Instagram and start paying more attention to our inner world.In the early days of the digital detox, I wasn’t completely convinced. I often had negative thoughts and felt alone. One evening, I even had a small breakdown; I felt overwhelmed and helpless. As if Cal Newport could foresee it, on the day after my breakdown, I read the chapter in Newport’s book that fundamentally changed my perspective. That chapter was exactly what I needed that day, and I think it’s a nice conclusion for these posts about digital minimalism.