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The trend of online minimalism: what works for you

ByIan Kirkland

Apr 8, 2019

In the span of one decade, smartphones have grown into a multi-trillion pound industry. Following the mainstream appeal of Apple’s first-generation iPhone in 2007, the business has only expanded, feeding into every area of daily life.

Unsurprisingly, smartphone use has proliferated massively throughout this past decade, doubling from twelve hours in 2009, to upwards of an entire day to forty hours spent online per week. On average, over seven to ten percent of the week is spent in front of a screen. But, this isn’t an article to shame our use of technology or lecture you to go outside and play in the sun. After all, we have more excuses than our phones to keep us from braving the wind, rain, and (occasional) sunshine.

In fact, in a post-Marie Kondo world, fueled by the value of self-care, a renewed trend of minimalism has surfaced, only buttressed by 90s, pre-smartphone nostalgia. Apart from tidying up homes into neat piles, this trend of minimalism has also pervaded into practices of limiting online presence. Marie Kondo urges us ‘to truly cherish the things that are important to [us]’, with technology being an appropriate extension of this.

Although social media obviously has an upside, its effects are often overwhelming. Instagram’s capitalisation of the FOMO effect, Facebook’s void of Insider articles and Buzzfeed quizzes, endless spam notifications from that ticketing app you used once when you were fourteen, or simply the feeling of no control at the sight of multiple clogged email inboxes. But, how do we, while being self-reliant, streamline this online presence and consequently maybe even cut down on that embarrassing screen time?

First off, hacks don’t work for everyone. Trust me, I’ve tried. With iOS 12 came Apple’s new way of appealing to these new-age minimalists: the Screen Time app. I ambitiously set it to 15 minutes a day. However, like many of my New Year Resolutions or health kicks, I soon realised this really wasn’t stopping me at all. Every time the little notification popped up, blocking the screen, my thumb tapped ‘15 more’ before I even had time to think. Instead, after getting my screen report from Apple the following week, I deleted the app.

While this understandably doesn’t work for everyone, it can gauge one’s dependency on the app. If you only delete the app for one day and then assess what your motivation to scroll or tweet or snap is, then you might be able to make small changes to get a more meaningful experience. If you’re using Instagram to keep up with your friends, maybe text or call, or even hang out. If you’re using Facebook to read articles maybe limit yourself to one or two to see if it’s just as fulfilling to you.

Overall, minimalism is a way of cutting down in order to make your life feel more meaningful. It relies on the individual, so can’t be solved the same way for everyone. It’s up to you to strike the balance between limiting yourself and reaping the benefits of technology.


Image: ECDL via Mobile IT

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