Updated: Jul 7, 2019
So here I am after spending a few weeks off social media writing my first blog post! Thanks for reading along! If you know me, you know that I love to read! I read mostly books that can be found under the self-help category(which I find a bit funny). Books on slow and simple living, homeschooling and family culture are my favourites.
I was suggested a book called Digital Minimalism written by Cal Newport by a dear friend of mine a few weeks ago and I must say that it came just at the right time(as I find most things do in life if you just stop to see it.)
We have been on a mission to simplify and bring intentionality in our family life for the past few years now! We have downsized from a 4 bedroom house with a large backyard and a swimming pool to a 36 feet motorhome now parked on my in-law’s acreage. Let’s just say we are really trying to evaluate everything that we allow in our lives be it from things we buy, food we eat, people we hang out with but I was still trying to figure out where technology fell into all of this. I feel like this book could really make sense of the mixed feelings I had toward the digital world and help equip me in achieving the balance and intentionality I am always striving for.
If you have been following us on our instagram feed and facebook page for a while, you probably saw us travelling through the US in our ‘vintage’ motorhome from December to the end of February last winter. The experience was amazing and we really hope to be able to travel full-time in the near future but for now, reality came knocking and we knew we had to be back home for my husband’s business by the beginning of March.
Let’s just say that coming back home in the snow, in our RV with our 4 kids home all day long (because we homeschool) was quite an adjustment... my husband owns his own business of pool renovations and services so during the warmer months he is extremely busy. Having him with us full time for 2 months and then him being back to work for such long periods of time was really hard this time around.
So back to this digital minimalism thing... I felt like my smartphone with all it’s shiny apps was just like having a fifth child screaming for my attention... I was already dealing with the transition of being back home, full time RV living and homeschooling and this social media thing was just adding to it all.
I had a night out with two precious girlfriends last week, and we started talking about the pressures of motherhood, balancing family life and work life, handling the home while our husbands manage their businesses and of course social media. We talked about comparison and while it is easy to compare while watching someone else’s perfectly curated feed we realized that we weren’t struggling with comparison but with lack of time and with irritability towards this hyper-connected era. We were longing for peace. Like Brooke McAlary puts it so well in her book Slow: "The idea of not being constantly available, or the expectation that I will be, is very attractive. We've reached peak information, peak connectedness, and peak availability, and I know I'm not alone in feeling overwhelmed by it."
So initiated by this digital minimalism book, I decided to take a break from all social media apps and make a switch from connection to conversation. Instead of commenting on some ‘friends’ beautiful pictures, I decided to facetime my sister in law. Instead of engaging in long texting conversations, I shared a podcast with some friends and offered we read the suggested book and meet at a cafe in a few weeks to talk about it. Instead of wasting precious hours in the evening scrolling my instafeed for some inspirations for our homeschooling, I chose a read-aloud book and invited two families to join us in a book club.
All of a sudden, I had gained a few more minutes to my days... I never was the one to be on my phone at all times of the day. I make a point of leaving my phone in the RV when spending time outdoors with the kids. But just not having this option of posting on social media made me realize that it wasn’t at all a necessity for me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love instagram and the beautiful content it gives me access to. I love that I can connect we like-minded people and feel like I am part of a tribe. I love listening to a good podcast(and have often times been moved to tears while realizing that I am not alone in my thoughts and struggles.) I have nothing against social media if used properly ... I just had to find my way through it all and have it work with intentionality for my purposes and not the other way around.
I had been contemplating the idea of writing a blog for the past few months but just couldn’t imagine finding the time to write... it just felt like one more thing on my to-do list. Now having taken some ‘time off’ and re-evaluating the digital world around me I want to make the switch from ‘fast posting' to a slower pace sharing. I might not have as much people reading this than commenting on my social media posts but I’m striving to continue this "conversation over connection thing"!
Here are a few quotes from the book that really talked to me and resonated so well with my desire to be intentional and present in my everyday life:
We cannot passively allow the wild tangle of tools, entertainments, and distractions provided by the internet age to dictate how we spend our time or how we feel. We must instead take steps to extract the good from these technologies while sidestepping what’s bad. We require a philosophy that puts our aspirations and values once again in charge of our daily experience, all the while dethroning primal whims and the business models of Silicon Valley from their current dominance of this role; a philosophy that accepts new technologies, but not if the price is the dehumanization Andrew Sullivan warned us about; a philosophy that prioritize long-term meaning over short-term satisfaction. A philosophy, in other words, like digital minimalism.’
‘Where we want to be cautious... is when the sound of a voice or a cup of coffee with a friend is replaced with ‘likes’ on a post...we don’t have good data on why people trade online for offline communication when given to digital communication tools, but it’s easy to generate convincing hypotheses based on common experience. An obvious culprit is that online interaction is both easier and faster than old fashioned conversation. Humans are naturally biased toward activities that require less energy in the short term, even if it’s more harmful in the long term- so we end up texting our sibling instead of calling them on the phone, or liking a picture of a friend’s baby instead of stopping by to visit.’
‘Face-to-face conversation is the most human-and humanizing- thing we do. Fully present to one another, we learn to listen. It’s where we develop the capacity for empathy. It’s where we experience the joy of being heard, of being understood.’
‘To succeed with digital minimalism, you have to confront this re balancing between conversation and connection in a way that makes sense to you...’
Hopefully this little peak inside this book will leave you wanting to stop everything you’re doing and read it... maybe not, but at least make you rethink the way you are doing relationships lately. Have you been too busy connecting that you forgot to take time to have a good conversation with someone dear to you! Let’s be intentional in our daily encounters and try to prioritise coffee over ‘likes’!