My heart is heavy this week. It has been a week filled with trauma and crisis, which has made it a little overwhelming for this small-town girl. The week started with a shooting in Kalamazoo of a police officer and cumulated with the tragedy in New Zealand. So, my heart has been hurting, and the loss is incomprehensible for my mind to wrap around. So much trauma in one week!
So, what does this have to do with digital technology? Because it was through the world of technology that I became aware of these tragedies! I was alerted on Tuesday through our emergency Red Cross email system of a police ambush in Kalamazoo and was called to the scene because of my role on the Crisis Mental Health Team. Walking into a building where a police officer had just been shot and the riddled body of the shooter was still lying on the ground was both traumatic and heartbreaking for me.
Yet, thanks to digital technology, I was alerted and able to be on scene within moments of the crisis happening. I could then be available to both police officers on scene and other witnesses to help them through this tragedy that had just happened before their eyes. Although many of these individuals will most likely suffer the ongoing effects of PTSD, I am honored that I could make a small difference by providing crisis counseling at a time when it was needed most.
Within two days later, the tragedy in New Zealand took place. Such a heart-wrenching scenario for so many innocent victims! Yet, again, thanks to digital technology, the world was knowledgeable within minutes of this crisis and prayers began immediately all over this earth to bring healing peace to the families of those whom had lost their lives as well as to the survivors and their families. It became a nation that was surrounded by love…because of the instant informational digital world we live in.
Newport reflected on his definition of digital minimalism: “A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.” The author was suggesting the idea of using less technology but utilizing technology more effectively through two major approaches: the subtractive approach and the additive approach.
I found the ideas in the book to be both credible and annoying at the same time! I understand the author’s area of focus, but I also view digital technology as a necessary tool that may not necessarily need limits unless someone is letting their use get out of hand. Yet, I realize this has become a problem throughout our nation (and most likely the world), so I do appreciate Newport’s idea that it’s important to distinguish the best from the rest. The author explored that ‘we should not settle for a tool that just plausibly supports an important principle in our life but think creatively about what tools (and accompanying behaviors) would best support that principle.’ I appreciate that type of philosophy!
Final words of wisdom from English author Agatha Christie: “I know there is a proverb which says, ‘To err is human,’ but human error is nothing compared to what a computer can do if it tries!” So true!
 Newport, Cal. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. New York: Penguin Random House, 2019.
 Newport, Digital Minimalism, 27.
 Newport, Digital Minimalism, 55.