Is Minimalism Compatible with Digital Minimalism?
The internet has made us more loyal consumers than ever before. With unlimited choices available at all times, there are several products and types of multimedia we have brought into our lives as a result of technology.
Smartphones and computers have increased accessibility to just about everything. It is important to note, however, that a constant connection to all of these options has contributed to material and information overload.
How Much Do We Consume?
Our consumption patterns – digital and non-digital – is significantly more in recent years than prior decades. In fact, research has uncovered how much we actually accumulate and confirms the importance of downsizing our lives from materialistic and technological standpoints.
According to the Self Storage Association (SSA), the United States has more than 50,000 storage facilities. This is five times the number of Starbucks. Currently, there is 7.3 square feet of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation. It is, thus, physically possible that every American could stand—all at the same time—under the total canopy of self storage roofing.
Research conducted by PEW Research found that a third of Americans live in a household with three or more smartphones. Further, these surveys uncovered that nearly one-in-five American households (18%) are “hyper-connected” – meaning they contain 10 or more electronic devices.
Minimalism vs. Digital Minimalism
To lessen our overall load, there are two approaches we can take to decrease the amount of physical items we own, while also cutting back on the excess information we consume. These lifestyle adjustments include minimalism and digital minimalism.
Minimalism is a way of life that involves accumulating and using as few items as possible. Because this lifestyle reduces how much we own, minimalist individuals primarily keep items that are useful in multiple ways. This means that electronic devices can play a large role in minimalism. Minimalist individuals may, thus, discard objects that only accomplish one task and choose to use applications on their devices to reduce their physical item footprint.
Digital minimalism, on the other hand, is a way of life that involves lessening our technology usage as much as possible. Rather than aiming to curb the amount of physical items we own, digital minimalists may, on the contrary, choose to keep several physical items that perform one function. This is part of the digital minimalist’s effort to use digital-free objects in every case they can, even if it means accumulating more physical items overall.
Living Both Ways
Between these two lifestyles, there are, evidently, some contradictions that challenge how we can simultaneously implement both approaches. This begs the question: Is minimalism compatible with digital minimalism? Continue reading for a side-by-side comparison.
Balancing Minimalism with Digital Minimalism
There are three core factors that show the differences between minimalism and digital minimalism. This includes our approach towards functional equipment, multimedia consumption, and document filing. With these ideas in mind, let’s take a look at how they measure up across both lifestyles.
Comparison 1: Functional Equipment
As previously stated, minimalist individuals may opt to discard as many one-use items as possible. This may, in turn, result in embracing technology more since its wide range of functionality can accomplish several tasks without the material baggage.
Individuals who focus on digital minimalism, on the other hand, may choose to keep more material items for the sake of using technology less. These individuals own record and MP3 players, calculators, voice recorders, and notepads. While a smartphone could easily help digital minimalists live more minimal lives, it is their preference to remain tactile.
Comparison 2: Multimedia Consumption
Given that minimalist individuals are set on accumulating less, this also impacts the way they consume multimedia. Some minimalists prefer to keep their entertainment and news digital to avoid accumulating DVDs and paper. This could involve using streaming platforms to watch movies, subscribe to digital magazines, and/or listen to podcasts.
Minimalist individuals also opt to borrow multimedia instead of purchasing it. For example, checking out books, magazines, and movies from the library have remained widely used ways minimalists utilize tactile media without the ownership component. Plus, it’s the more technology-free approach.
Individuals who live more analog may also borrow books and magazines from the library (and perhaps movies on occasion). However, they are less concerned with purchasing books, magazines, and newspapers since this allows them to consume information without technology. Individuals who practice digital minimalism may also listen to FM radio or buy podcasts that they can listen to on an MP3 player.
Comparison 3: Document Filing
Minimalist individuals may also use digitization as a technique to cut back on how much physical material they accumulate. Specifically, minimalists would rather make scans of all their paperwork and store it on their computer instead of an office filing cabinet.
Individuals who live more analog, on the contrary, do opt for the office file cabinet. To them, the physical organization and space these documents occupy makes all the difference in terms of security and searchability. It, additionally, provides one less reason to use the computer.
Becoming an Intentional Consumer
Minimalism and digital minimalism are both viable (and vital) approaches we can start taking today. Both lessen our material and media consumption, thus creating space for new priorities in our lives. Despite the visible differences between both lifestyles, we can live the best of both worlds by becoming more intentional about what we consume and how we consume it.
Minimalism involves discarding as many items as possible. Digital minimalism entails becoming low-tech within realistic bounds. Hence, aiming to live more minimal and more analog, rather than adapting an all-or-nothing mentality, makes all the difference in the long-term. You will, ultimately, be able to stick with these active cutbacks by setting feasible standards for the efforts that follow.
In short: question your loyalty as a consumer. Do you really need that product you just discovered on social media? Will that video you’re about to watch really add value to your life? Ask yourself these questions whenever you find yourself entering a digital and non-digital consumer role. You will be amazed at how much you can save – in all regards – just by analyzing the sudden impulse.