Put that Phone Away! Review of Cal Newport’s ‘Digital Minimalism’

Everyone knows that social media is making us unhappy. If like me, you’ve tried to put your phone away, cut down on social media use etc only to fail miserably after a couple of days, you’ll understand the frustration of feeling like you’re controlled by the need to ‘stay connected’.

What makes this book such an important read is that it not only examines the powerful psychological drives behind our need to keep our phones within reach (intermittent positive reinforcement and drive for social approval) but it also gives a lot of practical, supported advice on how to enrich our lives without technology.

Newport opens by outlining just how addicted we are, quoting Maher “Philip Morris just wanted your lungs. The App store wants your soul.” The average person checks their phone dozens of times a day which then results in most of us spending an average of around an hour scrolling through media feeds – every day. Newport invites us to think of all the other things we could be doing in that time – learning a language, practising sport or even just getting out and connecting with friends face-to-face.

Which brings me to one of the most interesting parts. Newport examines how when we enter into ‘technological conversations’, in reality we are really conning ourselves into thinking we’re truly connecting with people. Better to make a phone call or arrange to meet face-to-face to really build on our relationships. That’s the first piece of advice I’m squirreling away for the New Year Resolution list.

Most of the book is about practical advice, where Newport outlines how to make best use of a 30-day digital declutter that will have us away from our phones and back into our lives. Unlike many pithy articles, his advice is realistic – there’s no point cutting all social media if your job as a marketing executive requires you to use it – the emphasis is on the optional technologies that do nothing to add value to our lives.

So if, like me you’re thinking of making a resolution that sees you move away from the screen, I’d highly recommend this book. I’m already looking forward to a digital decluttering in January.




Published by nicolaheaney

I'm a poet based in Bristol via Derry, St Andrews and Madrid. When I'm not writing or performing my own poetry, I'm reading or trotting about with my camera. There is sometimes drink taken.

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Wood Bee Poet

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Fired! Irish Women Poets and the Canon

Nicola Heaney

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'She would say to discover / the true depth of a well, / drop a stone, / start counting.' - Andrew Greig

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