Digital Minimalism is Cal Newport’s latest book. I interviewed him on his previous book, Deep Work (see link below). Both are absolutely terrific.
I am gladly not on Twitter or Facebook, though some have tried to convince me otherwise. I am on LinkedIn and obviously have some blogs. These fit what I do.
I’ve read several books and essays on the perils of social media. All have been great, but Cal’s latest book and probably Neil Postman’s, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology are now my favorites.
Newport is hardly a Luddite, but he is a wise guide in helping us to think intentionally about how we spend our time. If you look at Newport’s prodigious output of both popular and scholarly work, you know that he is practicing what he preaches.
Cal Newport: Focused Success in a Distracted World
Jaron Lanier’s book could be viewed as the eccentric musings of a technophobe, but that would be a significant misread. Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now is no Luddite screed.
Lanier offers a wise and balanced book on the various dangers of social media. As Lanier makes clear, he is not advocating a total move from the Internet, but rather a temporary time out to assess what the social media side of things may be doing to us.
Throughout Ten Arguments we learn (or perhaps we already knew it) disturbing aspects that come with social media like the constant manipulation by companies for financial gain. When Facebook executives are limiting their own children’s use of the Internet, we know there is both a problem and profound hypocrisy about the problem.
One of the more disturbing things that Lanier makes clear is that all this social media makes one know themselves less as people who we will never see get to know us better!
I don’t use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I am glad I steered clear, but I will keep posting reviews and interviews about good books like this one!
I am a Protestant of catholic (small c) and evangelical sensibilities. Even with potential disagreements in reading a book by Roman Catholic authors, I found myself in wide agreement.
A Mind at Peace is a short, thoughtful, accessible, and winsome book. The authors wear their learning lightly, but the reader is well aware that they have done their homework.
As the title suggests, this book is about helping us have a posture of peace. The authors do a good job of showing that technology is lethal to this kind of peace. Neither of the authors are Luddites, but they are keenly aware of the disastrous effects that constant access to computers and smart phones has wrought.
My only slight disagreement may reside with Blum and Hochschild’s more favorable take on Stoicism. They don’t say much about it, but my perception is that we may disagree some on whether some aspects of Stoicism can be of use to the Christian.
Four out of five stars
Echo chambers abound. In other words, on Facebook and Twitter you “gather” with like-minded people who confirm your entrenched views.
Funny name that Facebook. There is no real face to face interaction and “gathering” or connecting is all virtual. Real person to person interaction has gone the way of the Dodo bird!
Great pooling of ignorance. Yes, there are thoughtful people on both Facebook and Twitter, but there are many more who are ignorant, and a large percentage seem not to know it!
The ancient Greeks said that to “learn is to suffer.” Real learning usually means we have to unlearn something that we believed to be true. This rarely happens, though I know of a few examples like the Westboro Baptist woman who realized via social media that her views were wrong. But these kinds of examples are rare, very rare. Probably not wise to build a case for something based on rare examples.
Let’s say you spend twenty minutes a day on Facebook and /or Twitter. That adds up to a little over 120 hours per day. Now think what you could do with 120 extra hours!
“Social media was not invented to make you better. It was invented to make the companies money.”
HT: Tim Ferriss blog
I’m grateful that my friend, Lyle Johnson, encouraged me to watch this. Much food for thought!
Excerpt from my forthcoming book:
Pascal had much to say about diversions in his classic book, Pensées. Pascal wrote how diversions can be greatly multiplied if you are wealthy. More money equals more things to get distracted by. This is still true today, but there are plenty of things all of us Americans, irrespective of income, can get diverted by. For example, most of us have computers which can transport us to all kinds of worlds which then can keep us from thinking about the most important matters of life. We may not feel very rich, but from a global or historical vantage point we are fabulously well off. Most of us take things like air conditioning, quality water, and consistent electricity for granted. As Bill Ball told a Sunday school class I was teaching, “Kings of the past would have been thrilled by owning a used Vega car and having unlimited access to petrochemicals.”
Along with all the triviality (hey, “look at my pizza” posts) and stupidity (everyone is an expert), Alan Jacobs adds further reasons:
“I have come to believe that it is impossible for anyone who is regularly on social media to have a balanced and accurate understanding of what is happening in the world. To follow a minute-by-minute cycle of news is to be constantly threatened by illusion. So I’m not just staying off Twitter, I’m cutting back on the news sites in my RSS feed, and deleting browser bookmarks to newspapers. Instead, I am turning more of my attention to monthly magazines, quarterly journals, and books. I’m trying to get a somewhat longer view of things — trying to start thinking about issues one when some of the basic facts about them have been sorted out. Taking the short view has burned me far too many times; I’m going to try to prevent that from happening ever again (even if I will sometimes fail). And if once in a while I end up fighting a battle in a war that has already ended … I can live with that.”