Digital minimalism

Posted by Laurie Barrette on

For more than 5 years now, we declutter every corner of our houses, our drawers, and our wardrobes to make room for something else. This means, more time, less cleaning, more savings on the financial level, fewer unnecessary items around us, etc. This year, we have decided to apply this same treatment to our digital life.

When we think of purifying our daily lives, our digital life is far from the one that comes to mind first, but if we think about it, it is obvious.

We spend many hours working online, having fun, researching, and doing a host of other not necessarily essential things. Our smartphones are filled with photos, emails, and various apps that allow us to have only one device to do it all, but which, let’s face it, also pushes us to become quite dependent on our phones, as if our lives depended on it. All this clutter seems invisible, but it is nevertheless very present in our daily life and greatly affects our mental state. Take a moment to observe how you feel after spending a long time staring at your cell phone versus the same time doing some physical activity or any other type of activity that you enjoy.

We just need to look at our screen time to realize the extent of usage and the time we spend on it (to access on iPhones → go to phone settings → screen time). It was when we saw our daily report that it struck us! Four hours a day, 20 hours a week, on average the equivalent of a part-time job. Yes, there was work related to that, but let’s be honest, social networks are built to make us spend as much time as possible on their platforms (Instagram hello stories with continuously scrolling content, YouTube videos which are linked automatically, etc…) and we cannot escape this.

Over two years ago, we started by disabling notifications from our phones. No more alerts when an email comes in or someone comments on one of our posts. This simple gesture freed us from the urgency of responding and of having to be always available. The first step towards liberation. Then, last year, we set limits on the use of applications. We went in progressively, first a maximum of two hours for apps like Instagram and Facebook and then we reduced to one hour.

Now, we would be lying here if we said we did not go past these limits sometimes! We also unsubscribed from many people on Instagram to keep only those who match our interests. Then it came to the cleaning of the phone applications. We removed all the apps that were not used regularly and were taking up space on them. The same went for reading emails, junk mailboxes, and even the trash that must be emptied manually.

Then it was dealing with the thousands of photos. We kept our favorites on a hard drive and we took the opportunity to have a few printed and framed. We deleted the others. It took a long time to do, but so worth it.

Why? Because nearly 4% of global GHGs are created because of digital life*.
Therefore, our virtual life has very real impacts on the environment. Anything stored in virtual memory must be stored in giant computers that require energy to run. So, the solution is not to add more memory to the cloud every time we need more space, but rather to declutter what we already have.

Even a simple search using a search engine has an ecological impact*.

Despite all this, for several months now, our use of Instagram continues to be of concern to us. The pandemic has caused us all to be hyperconnected to keep in touch with our loved ones while skyrocketing our screen time and by the same token our anxiety and our performance ego. It has become incoherent for us to talk about minimalism, slow living, and an ecological lifestyle while spending more than 4 hours a day with our phone in hand. We have therefore decided to put our accounts on hold for an indefinite period (we will explain more to you here).

Since doing this, we have found time to read novels, garden, pay more attention to our loved ones, cook, etc. This time we thought we did not have that was was simply poorly distributed as we let ourselves be carried away by the distraction of social media. We even manage to go out without our phones now.

This gave us a whole new perspective as to the relevance of what is shared on social media and the chaos of information and opinions therein. It also showed us that it is possible to exist (and even more) even if we do. Not share. These moments on social media. Just writing about it sounds ridiculous, but it is still a real feeling. Did a moment exist if it was not shared with the world? We swear, yes!

We strongly encourage you to declutter your digital. Life. Too! It does not matter what stage you are at in this process and even if you have small setbacks along the way!

Tips for applying digital minimalism to your daily life

  • Unsubscribe to newsletters
  • Delete read messages and emails
  • Empty junk mail mailbox
  • Sort and clean up photos and videos
  • Remove applications you no longer use
  • Disable notifications and alerts on your phone
  • Set time limits for use
  • Go through the people you follow on social networks
  • Leave your device outside your bedroom and set aside areas without a phone to relax and allow yourself to disconnect.
  • Do a digital detox from time to time by pausing your social networks for as long as you want or when you go on vacation.
  • Use search engines such as Ecosia

You can listen to our podcast with Infuse Magazine about this subject (french only)

* recherche/segments/chronique/165403/impact-environnement-travail-maison-carbone


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