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La Cañada High School

Review: ‘Digital Minimalism’ exposes social media’s impact on society

Cal Newport’s “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” discusses and tackles the issue of distractions caused by our cell phones, arguing that the low-quality leisure time we receive from the activities I mention (and more) are limiting the potential we have for our lives.

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 96% of Americans own a cellphone. Initially intended as a means to communicate by texting and calling, the modern cell phone has become multi-functional, and is now a way that one can play games, scroll through social media, and watch hours and hours of YouTube videos. And with these new features come a whole host of distractions.

Although I am not an avid reader of nonfiction, I found that I just couldn’t stop reading Newport’s book. I can account this as due to two reasons:

  1. Newport’s use of anecdotes drew me into his life, making it feel as if I was able to get to know him personally while reading this book. These anecdotes helped him to establish ethos so that I was more open to the ideas he was putting out there.
  2. He consistently referenced Facebook as well as other social media sites. As a teenager who frequently uses social media, it was interesting to hear the negative effects of using an app that I previously believed could only aid me in connecting with others.

And yet, this isn’t true. Social media, I’ve learned from “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World,” is contributing to the gradual degradation of relationships, because it helps us feel as if we are putting effort into our relationships when we hit the like button or comment.

However, at the end of the day, face-to-face interactions and nuanced conversations are what make relationships stronger, which is exactly what we give up in place of social media.

With this newfound knowledge, I’ve decided to embark on my own social media “detox,” where I won’t use Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat for 30 days.

I hope that, by doing so, I’ll be able to strengthen the quality of my relationships (over Facetime and phone calls, since I’m doing my part in social distancing). If you’d like to know more about this, stay tuned. Another article will be coming soon.

Overall, I highly recommend that people from all demographics read “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.” Maybe it’ll inspire your own social media “detox” journey, too.