Cal Newport. He’s an influential writer and researcher whose name is getting more and more popular. He is someone who you should at least be familiar with when you hear people talking about him or his works. He is most widely known as the author of Deep Work where he passionately makes the case that to accomplish the best work we can we must limit our distractions. Now, his newest title is about taking the next step to limiting the biggest distraction in our lives right now—our phones.
Here is an excerpt from a recent article that interacts more deeply with Newport’s newest book:
Newport’s case against digital maximalism is based on a familiar but important observation—many tech users feel anxious, distracted, and frustrated, but seem unable to do much about it. As he writes:
“The source of our unease . . . becomes visible only when confronting the thicker reality of how these technologies as a whole have managed to expand beyond the minor roles for which we initially adopted them. Increasingly, they dictate how we behave and how we feel, and somehow coerce us to use them more than we think is healthy, often at the expense of other activities we find more valuable. What’s making us uncomfortable, in other words, is this feeling of losing control—a feeling that instantiates itself in a dozen different ways each day, such as when we tune out with our phone during our child’s bath time, or lose our ability to enjoy a nice moment without a frantic urge to document it for a virtual audience.” (8)
If you see yourself in this paragraph, take a number and get in line behind me. Many of us know painfully well what it’s like to feel that our digital habits don’t even help or entertain us; they just exist, immovable, swallowing up time and attention as quickly and mysteriously as vanishing Christmas money . . .
In a world that is flooded with technology, including the technology that you’re using right now to graciously read this blog post, we need to learn how to steward our devices more faithfully. If the secular world is seeing a growing need for this, how much more so should the Christian world? In a recent survey, I saw that the average teenager spends 8-9 hours online every day. Seeing our youth up close, there are times when I think that number is too low. Newport has introduced his newest book at a time we need it most. I highly recommend you taking a look at it and the rest of this blog here.