• Written by Cal Newport
  • Published in 2019
  • 302 pages
  • Rating: ❤️❤️❤️❤️?

The first part of the book is about the philosophy of ‘Digital Minimalism’. A very interesting phenomenon, which has the concept of ‘solitude’ (defined as: freedom from input from other minds) at its core.

Cal explains the benefits of proper solitude: ‘the ability to clarify hard problems, to regulate your emotions, to build moral courage, and to strengthen relationships.’

This solitude is the key to major breakthroughs and novel ideas, but in this current age of internet, it’s very hard to find proper solitude. We are constantly being bombarded with information and we barely give ourselves some time to process all that information.

Luckily for us, our good old pal Cal has a few methods and practical strategies to help us overcome this issue: becoming a digital minimalist. His most notable remark in this section of the book is that being a digital minimalist does by no means mean that you have to abandon all digital technologies. It merely means that you have to use digital technologies as tools to optimise the time you spend on things that you really value in life (the notion: they are means, not ends).

An example of this is, for instance, using communication technology only for logistical purposes. To help set up and arrange conversation (in this book, they use Sherry Turkle’s definition of CONNECTION, her word for the low-bandwidth interactions that define our online social lives, and CONVERSATION, the much richer, high-bandwidth communication that defines real-world encounters between humans.)

There are quite a few different mechanisms that will help you to become a digital minimalist (e.g. joining the Slow Media movement), but one of my personal favourites is ‘walking’. Just the simple act of walking, finding solitude (it’s important not to have your headphones in while walking, to minimise the input into from other’s minds) and being alone with your thoughts.

Cal talks quite a lot about the activity of walking in his book (besides excessively quoting Thoreau’s Walden), so that results in quite a few interesting quotes about walking.

Here are my favourites:

‘Only thoughts reached by walking have value.” – Nietzsche

“The sedentary life is the very sin against the Holy Spirit.” – Nietzsche

“The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise . . . but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day.’ – Thoreau