Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism gave me a new perspective on my relationship with technology and social media. It’s a fascinating book on how social media keeps us hooked, how technology encroaches on our autonomy and time, and the fact that digital addictions register the same way in our brain as substance addictions. This book made me realize that there were so many applications/services on my phone that weren’t necessary to get by but somehow, I was mentally attuned to think they were.
Deleting Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter off my phone really showed me just how non-essential they are and how they’re more of a habit/addiction than a need. I experimented with this social media detox, as Cal Newport puts it, on the first day of the semester, and I think it’s no coincidence that this past semester has been my best one so far in terms of relationships, productivity, how I did in classes, and general well-being.
It was just two weeks in that I started to notice how much more time I had every day since I wasn’t spending extra hours on my phone scrolling through apps I didn’t need. Along with the documentary The Social Dilemma, I think Digital Minimalism does an impressive job of highlighting the negative impacts social media has on us, how these companies keep us hooked, and how we gain exponentially once these apps are off our phones.
I will admit that deleting all social media apps all at once isn’t for everyone. I was already someone who didn’t use them that much, so it was easier for me since I was leaning in that direction. But I highly recommend this book to everyone and suggest you try it. Like those random things you forgot in your drawers at some point, you’ll realize you don’t need Snapchat and TikTok on your phones. And for apps like Facebook, even committing to using only the desktop version makes an immeasurable impact—just get it off your phone. —Yazdan Basir ’23