This weeks subject matter, on the surface, is a much less controversial task for those who keep track of such things. On the surface, we are talking about something that 77% of the U.S. population carries in their hand a smart phone.  Drilling down a bit further 69% of those in the U.S. are one some sort of social media platform.  Just think if overnight everyone lost their ability to be connected via a smartphone or social media in general, you have a very touchy subject. In Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World he argues that in its beginnings the smart phone was just a way to “integrate your iPod with your cell phone, preventing you from having to carry around two separate devices in your pockets.”  I remember the first commercial for the iPhone I saw (for reference here it is):
Interesting how there is very little there about the phone, just an introduction. If you search for original iPhone commercials you can see all of them you ever wanted to…which is kind of the point to these things. In fact, one of the commercials I watched stated that you for all these years you got by without everything the iPhone offered and survived then asks the question but how? I have given you that video as well, if you do not want to watch all of the commercials skip ahead to the 4 minute mark.
This is the question asked by digital minimalism, can we survive without all of the added “benefits” that we get from our phones and social media. When I was a youth minister I would challenge our youth to fast from social media during the lead up to Easter, Lent is not something Baptists partake in, but growing up in a high church setting it was something I wanted them to do. Unfortunately only 2 or 3 of the students would take up the challenge and to be honest I cannot remember any one of them who finished out the fast.
I was fascinated in the discussion by Tristan Harris, his quote “This is a slot machine…every time I check my phone, I’m playing the slot machine to see ‘What did I get'”  He goes onto talk about how silicon valley is not just programming the phone but they are programming people. We receive a shot of dopamine whenever we respond to the slot machine and it makes us want it more and more. I did a little experiment while I was reading for my post this week. How long could I go during my reading without checking my phone or playing on an app, the experiment did not go well for me. It just proved I need to take this book to heart. I am too programed by this dang piece of technology to even go over 15 minutes without feeling the interminable pull of my iPhone. I began to think back to this year and grew almost panicked when I thought about the time I have wasted just in the past 6 months on my phone. How much better would everything I do if I put this stupid thing down?
The discussion moved to the principles of Digital Minimalism: 1. Clutter is costly 2. Optimization is important and 3. Intentionality is satisfying. I want to focus on Newport’s discussion on number 3. He uses the Amish as an example for principle 3. He goes on to describe the Amish use of technology, far from never using technology he states, “When a new technology rolls around, there’s typically an ‘alpha geek’…in any given Amish community that will ask the parish bishop permission to try it out…The whole community will then observer this first adopter ‘intently’ trying to discern the ultimate impact of the technology”  The geek then decides if the technology has more to give than it takes and they make their decision based on this. What a great idea, does my phone give or take more, does social media give or take more, do the apps I spend my time on give or take more? This is the first step in trying to find if I can move down the highway to minimalism.
Harry Wallop quotes Newport when he says, “”Attention resistance” also involves what he calls “analogue socialising”. Having hundreds of friends on Facebook is plain weird, he says.”  Wallop loves the idea of minimizing but also laments that it is much more than taking a weekend off. I agree, the idea of getting rid of all of my digital footprint is terrifying. Mike Jansen writes, “Newport calls us to act with intention when it comes to our digital technologies. If you have ever found yourself thinking that you spend too much time on your phone or social media, his book is well worth your time.” 
In the end, I have to make the decision, just like anyone else. I cannot make the decision for my wife or even my children. I have to let them make that, and until I do, I cannot expect anyone else to do the same.
 “Demographics of Mobile Device Ownership and Adoption in the United States.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. February 05, 2018. Accessed March 21, 2019. https://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/.
 “Demographics of Social Media Users and Adoption in the United States.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. February 05, 2018. Accessed March 21, 2019. https://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/.
 Newport, Cal. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life In a Noisy World. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2019. 4.
 Ibid. 10.
 Ibid. 52
 Harry Wallop. “How to Be a Digital Minimalist the Rules; We Need to Resist Technology, Says Cal Newport. He Should Know, He’s a Computer Scientist. By Harry Wallop.” The Times (London, England), 2019.
Janssen, Mike. “A Guide to Digital Decluttering: A Review of Digital Minimalism.” Digitalcollections.dordt.edu. March 09, 2019. Accessed March 21, 2019. https://digitalcollections.dordt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2052&context=faculty_work.