I love TECHNOLOGY, but not as much as you, you see…


Recently, my husband Mike and I started to talk about the role of technology in our life. It was after he was away on a trip, and I was home in Seattle. I had gone to the library and checked out a new book that was on display, titled Digital Minimalism. Turned out Mike had just downloaded the audiobook while he was on the road, and so we were both contemplating this new era of “tech” or the “digital age” that we’ve rapidly been immersed into. 

Now, I realize that I am an active user of technology, and I’m coming to a place where I accept that as reality. We live in a digital age and technology is evolving exponentially (have you visited the Apple store recently?!). However, I appreciate being challenged to consider technology’s role and place in my life. Basically, I have a smartphone, a computer, and now an iPad, of which I use for business, creativity, and keeping in contact with my people. In our quest for digital minimalism, here is what I’ve landed on for my own tech use, because though it’s easy to just go along with it, we do have choices in this tech relationship.

  1. Boundaries are necessary! Our rule is no phones/computers in the bedroom. It makes a huge difference to not have a screen be the last thing I look at or the first thing I wake up to. Instead, I might read an actual book before bed or allow my eyes to wake up to the light of a candle. I also have been conscious to keep my phone in my bag while out in public, and keeping it in its holder while I drive, which makes it less tempting to touch (and keeps me from tripping while I walk into a store or potentially a lot worse while I operate a vehicle!). 

  2. Think about how technology use supports my values. This one isn’t easy to have hard and fast rules around, but all in all I have to stop and consider if what I am doing on my device is actually really that... necessary. Do I really need to spend the next 20 minutes getting lost down a Youtube wormhole? Would I rather learn about my friend’s life through their Instagram or hear it from their mouth? I’ve also greatly decreased my social media participation, not because I think it’s bad, but I noticed how it was making me feel, which wasn’t actually very great. 

  3. Appreciate the tangible. I am a tactile and visual person, so I find a lot of satisfaction in being able to use my senses. I have found that reading a screen is not as enjoyable as feeling the subtle roughness of a book page, or getting that newspaper smell when I read the Sunday paper. I also have so many beautiful cookbooks, and I find it so fun to be able to open up a recipe and find some spills or crumbs from the last time I used it. 

Maybe you are satisfied with your technology use and you feel good about your screen time. What I have observed in my own life and with society, is that we seem to be preoccupied with these tiny computers that are attached to our hips, and I believe we are letting some very precious moments pass right by. My hope as I practice more digital minimalism is that it would allow me to actually be a bit more present with myself and others in any given moment. 

Look up. Take a breath in. This is your life right now. 

Alissa Swank