Digital Minimalism?

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ellarose24
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Digital Minimalism?

Post by ellarose24 »

Inspired by a book of the same name--

Does anyone here engage in "digital minimalism"--that is, being intentional in the way you use technology especially when it comes to internet, social media, blogs, and even ERE forums? :lol:

I know many people here have already cut out the main social medias--but would you extend that further?

I was on discord last year and the amount of people terminally online was pretty scary (and I had become one of them!) I cut it out, as well as reddit. I had given up fb and the like years ago. But it seems no matter what I cut out, the habit of seeking social interactions primarily online is here to stay--a mix of making due with covid, social anxiety, and ease of finding like minded people.

Is this perhaps another form of consumption that we don't take seriously enough? I often have 15 tabs open and all of them bookmarked, never to be read. I often read about topics that interest me without doing anything myself. I reach for my phone or laptop in moments of anxiety to give me and answer "dear google, why is my brain scary?"

I'd like to hear other's thoughts. I am unsure if this is widespread or if I alone have an addiction to online-spaces.

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Alphaville
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by Alphaville »

i haven't read the book, i just avoid social media out of a profound distaste for it.

however, lacking proper meatspace contact i do most things online these days. my work is online, and ofc so is the hangout. but... i don't like to scatter. i guess this board is my bryant park ha ha ha.

for friends and family far away i like to schedule phone or video call time. sometimes this might include food and drinks. but it's never random messages at all hours-- they've all been warned the constant pings and notifications piss me off :lol:

i also i have a mobile game i play online for short bits every day. never more than 10' at a time, so it's a refresher/escape when i'm mentally overloaded throughout the day. no notifications, no discord. it's mostly a bunch of canadians--nice people, i like how they interact socially.

that's about the end of it. i read a lot online though. 99% of my media these days is online. i just hate the drive to make everything *social*. watch a tv show, read an article, listen to an album, buy some shit--stop asking me to post about it on social media, motherfucker. no, i will not tell my "friends."

AxelHeyst
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by AxelHeyst »

I do indeed engage in digital minimalism. You aren't alone - my battle with going down valueless youtube wormholes until 0300 lasted years. Different platforms affected me differently and required different tactics to find a healthy relationship with. For example I abandoned fb effortlessly out of distaste, but I had to "force" myself to quit instagram because my little reptile brain *loved* it to the detriment of the rest of my life. I still require some kind of structure/system to keep myself from checking email every five minutes.

I had to switch off forum email notifications, because that served as a positive feedback loop for checking email and this forum obsessively (randomly spaced dopamine reward = feverish spot-checking).

I recently read these two articles about thinking and found them a pretty solid argument for dialling in one's digital engagement:
https://fs.blog/2015/08/how-to-think/
https://fs.blog/great-talks/solitude-and-leadership/

7Wannabe5
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

A very good book, intended for audience of people who are very nerdy about social engagement, is “Personal Village:How to Have People in Your Life by Choice, Not Chance” by Marvin Thomas, an engineer turned therapist. In this book he describes various types and levels of social relationships and groupings from very intimate to most casual and offers practical advice on how to form and maintain all these different types and levels.

One of these is The Salon. I currently primarily use this forum as The Salon*, but I have had others over the years, sometimes virtual and sometimes in meat-space. IME, The Salon is rare exception to rule that meat-space is better, because ability to collect thoughts and type at length is helpful and snacks, drinks/pot, gossip, flirting etc. tend towards being more distracting IRL.

OTOH, I dislike Facebook because it seems like virtual equivalent of wandering through a mall in a circle frequently running into people I vaguely know IRL. I also refuse to participate in sex on the internet, but this is partly due to the fact that I always imagine that people are actually tiny enough to fit on my screen, avatar sized, when that is how I meet/know them. But also because seems very lazy and blech because you can’t even know what that human might smell like IRL.

It is true that I likely spend too much time lounging about in this forum as The Salon, but I did the same thing way back in 1987 when I saved up enough money to do nothing for a few months when I was living in a student co-op on semester off between majors. Also, it was almost part of my job when I was the inventory manager for a very large bookstore. So, I don’t think digital ease makes a huge difference in compounding habit.

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Alphaville
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by Alphaville »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 11:13 am
One of these is The Salon. I currently primarily use this forum as The Salon*, but I have had others over the years, sometimes virtual and sometimes in meat-space. IME, The Salon is rare exception to rule that meat-space is better, because ability to collect thoughts and type at length is helpful and snacks, drinks/pot, gossip, flirting etc. tend towards being more distracting IRL.
yeah. this is where online shines.

back in ye olde internet days, salon magazine started precisely with that model in mind (not sure wtf they do these days), and an early isp alternative to aol and such, "the well," had lofty goals in their communities as well. see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_WELL eta: looks like it continues on, with the stated goal of "real conversation" https://www.well.com/

anyway one reason this one forum works for me is that since it promotes reasonable discussion we're mostly working out ideas, rather than products, personalities, popularity, agendas, etc.

i mean, it's rare the place where one can disagree constructively these days. things devolve too quickly to trollin and trying to win at all costs and mutual accusations etc in other platforms.

here i think ideas still prevail. most of the time anyway, because we're only human, but yeah.

Scott 2
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by Scott 2 »

I read the book. Hate the phrase though. I think most struggle with the problem.

Cal's 30 day fast did not appeal to me. I love using the internet. Suspecting it often hurts more than helps doesn't deter. I need strong why's to sustain my motivation to change.

What has been helping, is learning how website providers manipulate users for their profit. When I feel tricked, I am much more willing to sacrifice the good. Cal's discussion of the ways we are drawn back in helped me.

I also got value from Jaron Lanier's book Who Owns the Future. He describes the way big tech gets us doing free work, for their profit. Meanwhile, they push the risks of doing business outward to society. I think Cal hints at the problems of people as the product, but Lanier beats you over the head with it. Understanding that makes it much easier for me to opt out.

Lustig's the Hacking of the American Mind got me thinking a lot more about the health impacts. Understanding how the fractured attention carries into the rest of my life, trains me to be unhappy, that's also helped.


I've also found it careful to consider when the internet is a hiding or replacement behavior. Am I avoiding work? An interpersonal conflict? Overtired? This is an extension of Lustig's dopamine chasing. It's one of my biggest risks in abusing time online.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

“Alphaville” wrote: here i think ideas still prevail, most of the time anyway because we're only human but yeah.
Very true. As I have noted previously*, one thing I find very interesting is that my last long-term internet Salon was very similar to this one in many ways, except the books we formed our discussions around were about love/sex rather than freedom/money. That’s one of the reasons why I can’t seem to stop semi-inappropriately interjecting sexual analogy into discussions here. However, one difference was that group started out with humongous built in motivation to squabble, because half of us were on one side of marital power struggle and half of us were on the other side, so transcendence through personal growth was very obvious. More like if this forum was based on overcoming fights about money in marriages where one partner was stereotyped as scroogey, controlling miser and the other partner was stereotyped as weak, demanding, out-of-control spendthrift and higher Wheaton Level was achieved through “dropping your end of rope”, empathy/empowerment, and “differentiation.”

Actually, one notion that just occurred to me was that shared philosophical outlook on that forum and this one would be rejection of normative functioning or appeal to general jury of peers. IOW, neither forum fostered notion that sex 2x/week or $60,000/year spending is normal therefore good compromise.

Okay, waaay off topic. In summary, philosophical discussions about sex with forum of intelligent interesting others = good. Getting off by chatting with stranger on internet = bad. IMO only. MMV.




* I really should take a break from this forum for a while until I have some thing(s) new to discuss :oops:

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Dream of Freedom
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by Dream of Freedom »

I think a Pareto principle analysis would be useful. What 20% of what you are doing online is most harmful? What 20% is most beneficial?

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Alphaville
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by Alphaville »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 12:09 pm
freedom/money.
hmmm... i come here precisely to talk about no-money :mrgreen:

for money talk i'd go to.. bogleheads maybe?

but yeah i think we more broadly talk about... economics? from home/personal to macro. yeah... money is there somewhere but not as the central motif i think. except perhaps, ultimately, as a negative?

as žižek says that hegel says: a thing is not just what it is, but also what it's not (his "coffee with no milk" joke).

white belt
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by white belt »

Dream of Freedom wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 12:32 pm
I think a Pareto principle analysis would be useful. What 20% of what you are doing online is most harmful? What 20% is most beneficial?
I agree with this. I find this forum very useful. I also peruse APnews which is debatably useful but should probably limit it to a 10 minute window once a day (I’m of the opinion that the low information diet doesn’t work so well with 21st century problems). I also like a few long form macroeconomics related podcasts that come out once a week, but I’m not sure if those count as internet usage. I find this forum along with those podcasts can help me keep my eye on important topics that the mainstream media isn’t reporting on (e.g. I believe this forum and MacroVoices both started talking about COVID-19 as a major issue in January 2020, which was a month and half before shutdowns started happening in the US). That gave me time to prepare before the masses.

However, I don’t use any social media other then occasionally remembering I still have a Facebook that I keep in case I need to reach someone from a previous era of my life (checked maybe twice a month). I use Snapchat but only as a messaging platform (similar to texting) because it is one that many of my friends use. No Instagram or Twitter, which is almost unheard of among my generation. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I met a person in their 20s that didn’t have an Instagram. Sometimes I think I might even be handicapping my dating life by not having an Instagram.

Edit: There might also be little things you can do, like removing social media apps from your phone and mostly using your computer for internet browsing rather than phone. That will force you to be more deliberate rather than just whipping out your phone anytime you have the slightest downtime. I worked in an office where no cell phones were allowed, so even just checking my phone at lunch and after work was a different experience compared to always having it in my pocket.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Alphaville:

Absolutely true. I was short-handing too much regarding topic for both groups. Focus on metrics, such as spending or sexual frequency, although somewhat compelling to us nerds, can become a distraction. There is something qualitatively different going on when you are happily living on only 1Jacob/year or easily having enjoyable sex every day, but you can’t force it through spreadsheet or worse forms of manipulation. You have to build up all the necessary underlying stocks/skills in order to make the flow emerge or “pop” that effortlessly.

If I could think of another topic besides sexuality, ecology, or economics which might have a similarly interesting Internet forum, I would join that one too :lol:

vexed87
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by vexed87 »

I have found the right balance in these last 2 years.

I quit facebook a few years ago now because the superficial nature of interaction bored me, I stopped posting first, then went nuclear and deleted everything. That felt good. Twitter scrolling took over for a while, until I realised I'd just subbed one unwanted habit for another. I deleted the twitter app from my phone, that really helped curb my worst screen time excesses. I maybe look at twitter in my browser once or twice a day now rather than habitual scrolling for dopamine hits.

I also found being ruthless with my e-mail inbox helped a lot, basically unsubscribing from every single mailing list and marketing regular. My inbox gets checked once a day, usually after work, most days I have just one or two things of interest there, or nothing at all.

I also went through an exercise of withdrawing notification permissions from all apps on my smartphone, except calls and direct messages from loved ones. It has smartphone capabilities, but get used more like a feature phone these days. Having a tiny data allowance stops video and music streaming in its tracks! I'm not in a contract, and can always buy more data if I found myself in a situation where I NEEDED, but funnily enough, that hasn't happened.

I'm in still in a few group whatsapp chats, and people know if they need me, to call me direct as I likely won't be checking in group chats often enough to review social arrangements, in any case DW is still plugged in, so I hear about things through her :lol:

I'm no longer staring at my phone instead of paying attention to what DW or DD are saying to me, which I noticed I had been doing a little too often in the past. I don't think I've used screen-tech this little as I have since maybe before 2005 when I didn't have a 24/7 internet connection.

DW and I are taking a trip to the Yorkshire coast next week, I'll be leaving my laptop at home for the first time on a trip away since I've had one, and I don't think I'll miss it.

ducknald_don
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by ducknald_don »

vexed87 wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 1:34 pm
I have found the right balance in these last 2 years.
I think it's quite amusing that you re-appeared on this thread after a long absence.

vexed87
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by vexed87 »

Don't worry, I've been lurking a little here and there! :lol:

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Oh, Discord. I have never seen so much Internet addiction as I have on Discord. Unfortunately, Discord became a big problem for me over the pandemic, and I'm still trying to cut it out. The problem, for me at least, is I have to replace it with socialization IRL otherwise I just crash, burn, and repeat. Which is why I still spend way too much time on that dang platform.

I don't really use any other social media though. Just Discord and then this forum and occasionally reddit. I do find that using reddit (or sometimes even this forum) leads to worse mental health than Discord alone because I keep focusing on depressing topics (ie, collapse), whereas Discord is largely just mindless.

ellarose24
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by ellarose24 »

AnalyticalEngine wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 7:51 am
Oh, Discord. I have never seen so much Internet addiction as I have on Discord. Unfortunately, Discord became a big problem for me over the pandemic, and I'm still trying to cut it out. The problem, for me at least, is I have to replace it with socialization IRL otherwise I just crash, burn, and repeat. Which is why I still spend way too much time on that dang platform.

I don't really use any other social media though. Just Discord and then this forum and occasionally reddit. I do find that using reddit (or sometimes even this forum) leads to worse mental health than Discord alone because I keep focusing on depressing topics (ie, collapse), whereas Discord is largely just mindless.
That's really interesting. Discord for me was also one of the most addictive things I've ever engaged with--during the midst of the pandemic I was on it 9-10 hours a day and it was anything but mindless. I was engaged in radical feminism and had rape threats and entire servers made about me and how to doxx and rape me lol. I picked fights constantly, and was constantly faced with the reality of the state of the world in a very bad way. I believe almost everyone I met on discord was mentally ill--not excluding myself.If you go too deep into any subculture there are extremists (like radical feminists that think any penetration is heteronormative and so rape--yes that was a fringe belief but one that was still talked about).

Reddit I find equally depraved. The recent run-ins with pedophilia made me quit it altogether. Bet even before that, I found my thoughts twisting and turning dictated by whatever subreddit I was apart of. I even limited myself to sustainability and environmental subreddits, but I was sacrificed at the cross for saying paper beer rings aren't the way forward for sustainability lol. I found a lot of consumption-driven behavior by advertisers that pretend to be normal users (I know this is true because my SO's brother was hired specifically to do this). Plus people are just downright nasty.

This forum is good in that it does seem to be an actual community, meaning people are allowed to disagree and still learn from one another on things they agree with. For me, digital minimalism is more like intentional use of technology. This forum is mostly inspiring, and it gives me a sense of agency in my own life--that seems to be absent from every other forum, which feeds into everyone's desire to be a super special victim. (I am not trying to sound like a boomer conservative--but I believe there is some sort of overwhelming push to make people feel like they have zero agency and are perpetual victims--the worst possible thing for mental health)

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

@ellarose24 - Oh I totally know the online political milieu you're talking about. I've been down that rabbit hole too. I think a lot of the radical feminist discourse is actually a reaction to how terrible the political discourse on reddit/twitter/etc get. I've been down both sides of that debate, and the entire thing is incredibly unhealthy.

My experience with Discord is honestly pretty similar to yours, except I got burned out with the radical political scene years ago. So while a lot of the communities in Discord that I'm in have a big element of that, I make a very active and deliberate choice to not let myself get sucked in. Still, I saw it happen to other people all the time, and the conscious self-censorship is pretty exhausting. Overall, the online political scene is tremendously unhealthy, especially since it was triggering aforementioned rumination spiral that I was talking about in my previous post.

This forum is definitely leagues above all that. I just find I have to limit how much I engage with certain subjects (ie collapse) or else I'll get burned out.

ellarose24
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by ellarose24 »

@analyticalengine - This forum is sometimes bad for my mental health as well--there is a limit to what I can sustain due to needing to keep stress at all time lows and having a highly reactive personality to any stress (working on it). It often appeals to my obsessive nature and I can get stuck down increasingly depressing rabbit holes and feeling insane amout of guilt (for failure at living without AC for instance)--so yes I think really any narrow topic sometimes leads to dogmatic thinking/guilt/etc.

The whole point of digital minimalism--the book at least--was to stop consuming other peoples' ideas. As much as I like ERE ideas, it does seem there is a sort of defined path of ideas that, while pretty radical compared to most people, is still a defined path.

In that way I think for me digital minimalism would be more in line with taking inspiration from various people with similar ideas, but setting clean boundaries that those ideas are not to be adopted dogmatically as my own. Whenever I find myself agreeing with someone or something 100% I sense danger.

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Lemur
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by Lemur »

Facebook, Twitter - Gone. No regrets. I also deleted Reddit but ultimately came back to track sentiment around stocks / options.
LinkedIn - I've while I'm still working but never post. Never know when I need to get a hold of an old colleague or need a reference / search for job.

I used my phone for too many things...reading books on Kindle (though I prefer to get books at Library but since COVID, have not gone), taking notes, tracking calories, the occasional game or Youtube.

So toxic social medias mostly cut out but I find too much benefit for my smartphone.

Toska2
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Re: Digital Minimalism?

Post by Toska2 »

Nothing but ere and coffee shop wifi's YouTube. No conputer, home internet or social media.

Apparently getting drunk once or twice a week and going down my own mind's rabbit hole and then googling why or why not is good enough for me. Last thought experiment was woodchip composting or simply spread them on a field. Up to 1" Field won as the chips wouldn't cause a nitrogen deficit. Sawdust has more surface area but, if you were a farm, it would be hard to get the tonnage to cause a nitrogen deficit.

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