Why you'll never succeed at digital minimalism

Why you'll never succeed at digital minimalism

Have you ever tried collecting water with a strainer? You may be able to collect a few drops, but nearly all the water that goes into the strainer, goes out of it in the same measure, defeating the purpose of your efforts. The reason for this lack of success when collecting water this way comes down to choice - a strainer is not a good choice as a tool for the task at hand.

Likewise, the effort to follow a digitally minimalist lifestyle can be tiresome and unsuccessful depending on the choices we make when trying to adapt to this new way of life. There are several challenges that individuals may face when trying to adopt and maintain a minimalist approach to their digital lives, and the decisions we make in face of each one of them will dictate how successful (or unsuccessful) we can be in our minimalist endeavor.

One of the reasons why some people may struggle with digital minimalism is simple and straightforward: addiction and habit formation. Digital devices and platforms are designed to be addictive and can easily become ingrained in our daily routines. It’s no secret that the anticipation of positive social feedback, such as getting a notification or receiving validation through social media interactions can stimulate dopamine release. This anticipation and subsequent reward can create a cycle of seeking further engagement on social media platforms. People may find it challenging to break free from the constant pull of social media, and the addictive nature of digital technology can make it difficult to limit or reduce usage, leading to relapses and difficulties in adopting a minimalist approach.

Another hurdle to being successful at digital minimalism is FOMO, or “Fear of Missing Out”, be it missing out on important information, social interactions, or opportunities. However, the constant stream of updates and notifications is a two-edged sword. It can simultaneously create a sense of anxiety due to its endless flow and create the fear that disconnecting from the digital world will result in being out of touch. This fear can hinder individuals from fully committing to digital minimalism.

In today's interconnected world, technology is also deeply integrated into various aspects of our professional lives. Some people might face workplace pressures to stay constantly connected, be active on social media, or use digital tools extensively for productivity. These external expectations make it challenging for individuals to embrace digital minimalism, as the consequences of disconnecting or reducing their digital presence might have real-world repercussions.

Other people struggle with digital minimalism because they haven't identified alternative activities or hobbies to replace their digital habits. Without compelling offline activities or meaningful relationships to fill the void left by digital distractions, it may be difficult to sustain a minimalist approach. 

So how do we reconcile all these challenges with the choices we make when embarking on this minimalist journey? Reality is that the evolution of technology has brought insurmountable conveniences to modern life. From the palm of our hands, we can find any answers we want. We can check what’s in our bank account, our email inbox, and our refrigerators, all on the go. We can check in on kids at home through the security camera we installed, and we can check the trends on our own sleep cycles, heart rate during exercise and make reservations for our next night out.

If a hyper-connected lifestyle can be so convenient, why would anyone intentionally go against the grain and choose digital minimalism, giving up so much convenience? The answer is simple - convenient isn’t always better. If the same tool that is allowing you to “save a lot of time” is causing you to waste the time saved on other things and not on what benefits you, it is time to rethink the concept of (or the value we impute on) convenience.

So let’s choose tools that are healthy for us, even if that means being a little inconvenienced. Without making the choice for what’s good over what is convenient, we will never succeed at digital minimalism.


Cami Laughman

An accomplished translator and writer, Cami has been in the creative field for nearly two decades. Her experience as a linguist in several fields, paired with her background as a native Latina immigrant (born and raised in Brazil and naturalized American citizen) gives her a unique perspective on the social and cultural context of our society. She has been with Techless since 2022 and currently lives in Michigan with her husband of twelve years and their eight-year-old son.