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Finding Quiet and Solitude in a Digital World

Have you noticed lately that it's very hard to enjoy peace, quiet and solitude? You're not alone -- literally. We take a look at why we're all so exhausted and what little steps you can take to find some peace in a very busy world.

In one of my favorite books, Digital Minimalism by Cam Newport, he defines Solitude Deprivation as “A state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your thoughts  and free from input from other minds”. Read that again – you’ll agree, I’m sure, that are constantly receiving input from phone screens, TV, emails, and many other sources.

When was the last time you truly felt rested? War, plague, a constant barrage of bad news on the TV, political turmoil – it’s all just so exhausting.

Lately I have made choices that I hope you’ll consider making as well. I can safely say that it has helped my mental well-being dramatically.

If you’re a Gen-X or early millennial, you’ll remember the days of going out in the morning on your bike or with friends, and not coming home until dark, with your parents basically saying not to come home dead or you’d be in big trouble. The days when we didn’t have constant access to our devices.

When was the last time you were in a line waiting, or even at a stop light in your car, and you picked up your phone for that quick hit of doom scrolling? Probably pretty recently, right?

The fact is, we’re never alone with our thoughts anymore – and for a lot of people, maybe that’s scary at times – but the human brain needs peace and quiet. In Digital Minimalism by Cam Newport, he states, β€œIn my experience, gradually changing your habits one at a time doesn’t work well β€” the engineered attraction of the attention economy, combined with the friction of convenience, will diminish your inertia until you backslide toward where you started.” A 30-day β€œdigital declutter,” where we impose severe restrictions on the technology we use, is ground zero for the battle. The first part of the book sets up the problem and walks us through this detox process; the second half suggests what we should do with our new minimalist selves.

This is the second book by Cam that I’ve completed in the last week. I will say that I am not yet at all a book reviewer, but I will say that I am absolutely a new advocate of decluttering and reducing screen time.

I deleted the Facebook app from my phone (not my account itself), and imposed 30 minutes of screen time max for any social media or web browsing apps, as well as 30 minutes max for any gaming apps. Chrome was a terrible culprit of allowing me to refresh CNN constantly for the latest awful event that happens each day.

My habits of picking my phone up just while idle have drastically reduced, and I instead now write for this website, or jot down plans and notes by hand in my lined paper notebook for the next days meetings or tasks I want to complete.

I have found that my “metal exhaustion” has faded notably even in the initial phases of my decluttering. I’m walking more and thinking about things that matter more.

I hope you’ll check out Digital Minimalism by Cam Newport and see if it helps you the way that it’s helped me, but even if you choose not to read the book, try removing apps that really “don’t matter” all that much, even gradually, and see what an improvement it makes in your daily level of happiness and energy. Leave a note in the comments with your thoughts.

Please check out our other mental health related articles and the rest of NerdSimple when you have a chance!

Mitch R.
Mitch R.
Mitch was a nerd at birth. He took up console gaming in the Atari days and PC gaming in 1990. By day he works as a Solutions Architect for a major telecom company and does ASP.NET Core/Blazor/C# as side gig. Does the man ever sleep? No. He doesn't. Coffee is life.

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