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Digital Minimalism – A Review

Digital Minimalism – a review

I recently finished reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. I’ve read his book “So good they can’t ignore you” before, and -as I am writing this- am working my way through Deep Work*.

While I generally like Newport’s books, I was a little bit disappointed in Digital Minimalism, for two reasons: the assumption that we have large pockets of leisure time to ourselves, and some half-baked ideas.

The first problem is the assumption of large pockets of leisure time for the pursuits Newport recommends (making things, long walks, etc). Newport is a father of three children, so I wonder how he can find the time to do his tinkering around the house (without kids running off with his tools or trying to electrocute him). I somehow assume that his wife is the primary caregiver in their house, but I would have liked a discussion on this.

My second point of criticism is that some ideas in the book seem to contradict each other. What’s to be prioritized: long walks and solitude, or working out with a group of people for the social aspect of it? The beginning of the book seems to recommend that we should steer clear from all social media, whereas the second half of the book recommends us to use social media in a smart way – I am bit confused as to what the may message is now.

On the topic of making things: he seems to undervalue crafts in favor of things like welding, changing the oil of a car, etc. I think there should be more space for people individually to explore which things they want to learn to make with their hands – whether that be a patchwork blanket, a vegetable patch, or a piece of furniture.

*I’m reading the Dutch translation of Deep Work, as this version was significantly cheaper in my Kobo store (with Dutch settings standard). The translator did a horrible job and butchered the clear voice of Newport’s writing, and laced the text with Dutch slang, which makes it annoying to read for a Belgian. The translator also provided footnotes that sometimes are wrong (an associate professor is NOT a docent – but a universitair hoofddocent, for example).

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