Ep. 56: Digital Minimalism

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Show notes

"Philip Morris just wanted your lungs; the App Store wants your soul." - Bill Maher, 2018. This week, we explore the concept of Digital Minimalism, as described in Cal Newport's new book of the same title, the significant changes we've both made in response, the early results we've seen, as well as some of the open questions and fears we each have. This isn't about hating on tech (we love it!) but rather understanding the real impact of how we are now "connected", making choices based on what you value most, crushing some of the myths of being an online entrepreneur and "needing" social media, and deciding how you really want to spend your life.

We talked about

  • shared work spaces and needing a change from the work-at-home environment

  • a love-hate relationship with social media and the pressure to use it for business

  • playing the comparison game on social media and fear of losing ground

  • trying to get Alma off digital devices before bedtime

  • Laura losing her shit over a recent digital note-taking incident

  • home intrusions and receiving messages expressing disappointment

  • texting and an eye(ball)-opening revelation made to Isabelle about Instagram

  • life before caller ID and the pressure to respond ASAP with smart-phone text messaging

  • pretend connection and Bill Maher’s Real Time closing monologue

  • being in the moment vs. disappearing into a smart-phone on a Vermont ski trip

  • a compromise between Laura and Alma and the smart idea of Wi-Fi kill switches

  • Newport’s 3-step minimalist technology screening process

  • running down the changes made, the constraints felt, and the patterns broken during this process for both of us

  • Jordan Peterson, the teenager who doesn’t text or Snapchat, and the solitude deprivation concept

  • the lack of separation between personal and professional in digital device usage

  • Laura’s surprising phone statistics, before and after entry into digital minimalism world

  • social media hiding you from most of your followers...unless you pay up

  • digital multi-tasking and more juicy stuff.


“So I explained to her how Instagram is basically selling her eyeballs to other people, and every minute she spends on it is a minute that they are making money off of her.”

“Social media is not insidious to me. I’ve actually always seen it as poisonous. I have always been really really really wary of it. I saw the addictive nature of it, and I did not want anything to do with that.”

“It’s no different than drinking in this way: it makes it impossible to find pleasure in things.”

Ask yourself

  • If you didn’t use social media for business at all and never had, would you still feel like you don’t exist if you’re not on it?

  • What does this technology serve that you deeply value? Is it the best way to serve what you value? 

  • Are you conscious of how and when you use digital technology? (And if not, how will you constrain it?)


Digital Minimalism and Deep Work books by Cal Newport

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

Music by Izzy DeVor.

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Spiritualish, Meadow, and Laura


Spiritualish is hosted by Laura McKowen and Meadow DeVor. Sometimes spiritual, always inappropriate. New episodes drop every Thursday.

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