Ezra Klein's recent interview with Cal Newport is a goldmine of practical insight and warrants repeated listening. It begins with a reflection on solitude. "The last ten years is the first time in human history that it has been possible to banish solitude from the human experience," Newport explains. "We are constantly getting input from other minds."
These ceaseless inputs from podcasts, articles, social media, advertising, news, (and perhaps even this newsletter) leave us with little time to step back and process what we've received. Such solitude is essential for real understanding. It is entirely possible to become immured in the information we're taking in— often so much "digital clutter"—and lose the ability to see the persons we are becoming because of it.
Newport's solution is not a digital detox, but digital minimalism. He recently asked his blog readers to join him in "the digital declutter": take a 30-day break from optional technologies, fill in the empty space with activities and behaviors you find satisfying and meaningful, and reintroduce only the technologies that serve what you value. To hear about the liberating results of the declutter, listen to "Cal Newport has an answer for digital burnout" on The Ezra Klein Show. For more, pick up Newport's wonderful new book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World or read a print interview about the book over at GQ.