Anxiety and Digital Minimalism

Why Digital Minimalism

This year was one of the more challenging years for me and many I know. In twenty-plus years of ministry, I have never had to meet with a therapist. I am not against them; I just have never felt the need. I never feel lonely, rarely get upset, and have never been depressed. I have experienced loss and have walked others through loss, but none of it has ever brought me to a place of anxiety. This year all that changed.

This year I felt like I failed. I felt like I was unable to protect the people God by his providence place in my care. That feeling started as a panic attack and grew into anxiety in a way I have never experienced in my life. I wasn’t prepared for how it made me feel and for how it affected me on an emotional level. It got to the point I had to see a professional counselor. We talked through it. He told me that what I had been through was traumatic. We talked about boundaries relationally and interestingly enough electronically. I took some steps to minimize my exposure to certain groups on social media, and I was surprised by how much it helped.

I didn’t realize why limiting my exposure to social media helped until I picked up a book I had heard a lot about called Digital Minimalism. In his book Cal Newport describes Digital Minimalism this way:

“Digital Minimalism A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

Cal Newport

Studies show that I’m not alone. In the Preventative Medicine Reports, they have done studies that have shown associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents. High users of screens were also significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Fourteen to 17-year-olds spending 7+ h/day with screens (vs. 1 h/day) were more than twice as likely ever to have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety. High users of screens were also more likely to have seen or needed to have been seen by a mental health professional, and more likely to have taken medication for a psychological issue in the last 12 months.

The problem with most young people and many of us not so young people is that we fill every spare moment digesting digital information. The cracks in our lives are filled in, we have lost the art of solitude. We no longer remember how to be alone with ourselves. We fill our lives with the airbrushed curated moments of the lives of our digital friends and wonder why we are filled with anxiety.

It’s now possible to completely banish solitude from your life. Thoreau and Storr worried about people enjoying less solitude. We must now wonder if people might forget this state of being altogether.

Cal Newport

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,”

Blase Pascal

Over the years, I have taken some steps towards Digital minimalism. I rarely post pictures of my kids online; if I do, I never use their names. I also frequently delete the iPhone apps for social media sites off of my phone. This year however I plan to try and take more drastic steps to be a lifelong digital minimalist.

I have to regain the ability to be present with myself and those I love. I have to allow my mind to wander to process the truly painful things in my life rather than stuff them by mindlessly scrolling Instagram. When I am off screens, I come up with new ideas new thoughts. When I am on screens, I see what others are doing and say why didn’t I think of that. Envy replaces wonder.

I need to minimize the hold that my phone in general and social media, in particular, has on my life. Am I going to become a digital hermit? No. The ship has sailed on that. I have come up with a plan to minimize the hold that social media has on me. So that I am freer to enjoy the world around me, create more, and have hobbies, I appreciate that I can look at later and say, “I made that.”

My Plan

  1. Delete all social media apps and games on my phone. Block all access to social media even though the browser on my phone.
  2. No longer click likes or post comments on other people’s posts. I have had several “Facebook fights,” and at the end of the day, they are still wrong (lol), and I’m upset over what they said or how I said something.
  3. I still plan on using social media to post blog posts (which I hope to post more of not being on Instagram so much) and to pass on information and posts I found helpful.
  4. Use my phone to listen to books on my commute, text, call, and write blog posts and start working on a book remotely.
  5. Use my computer exclusively to check social media a few times a week.
  6. I will still use social media for work-related issues just not as an anesthetic for the boredom that makes life….life.
  7. I am going to remove the news app from my phone and all notifications. I will now get my news from Allsides.com free of ads and partisan nonsense.

A foundational theme in digital minimalism is that new technology, when used with care and intention, creates a better life than either Luddism or mindless adoption.

Cal Newport

My Hope

I don’t think everyone should do this. I am telling you all this, so you know why I may not like your pictures or posts. It’s not that I don’t want to connect with you that I want to try and regain the time to really connect with you, not just pretend that I am. Please text me or call me but know that if you send me things through Instagram or Facebook, it may be a while before I get back to you.

I don’t know if this will work, but from what I have seen from the electronic boundaries I have set already, I think it will be okay. This isn’t “goodbye” it’s just “I’ll get back to you just not really quickly.”

The 10 best iPad apps

apps

Here are the 10 iPad I can’t live without. They are the first apps I install on any new iPad or IPhone I buy.

Feedly – I was a google reader fan and used Mr. Reader on my iPad with google closing the doors on google reader I have made the switch to Feedly the transition was seamless. I love the layout options and experience Feedly provides. I blogged about the switch to feedly here.

Downcast – Love how this app makes the listening subscribing and function of podcast infinitely easier than apple does. It allows you to stream content saving space on my device. I can also download episodes for offline enjoyment.

Agenda – This is an alternative to the native iOS Calendar application. I like its simple and elegant interface much better. It is just more intuitive to me. (I also use it on my iPhone.) It connects directly to Google Calendar, which is what I use to manage my appointments.

Mailbox – This to is an alternative to the native iOS application called mail. I like that it forces me to deal with mail in an organized fashion without allowing them to be buried in a folder somewhere. Mailbox has a clean simple workflow that if you use gmail you must use this app it’s fantastic.

Evernote – I love Evernote – I use evernote to for tons of things from cataloging messages, illustrations, book notes to keeping copies of my receipts and even a copy of my passport should be abroad and lose it, I will always have a copy handy.

New City Catechism – This app was created by Redeemer Church in New York City. Keller and his team created a 52 week catechism based on  The Heidelberg Catechismof 1563 and Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms of 1648. The app is beautifully laid out and easy to use. Our family goest through it together over dinner.

Kindle Reader –  Love reading books on my iPad mini. It is the perfect size I have used an actual kindle reader but most often prefer my ipad. The reason I prefer the iPad as a Kindle reader is because I use Evernote to log my notes on a book and use Drafts to send out quotes to all my social media sources. Here is a great article from Michael Hyatt on importing highlight from your Kindle books into Evernote.

Drafts – In Drafts you can get that text down quickly and decide what to do with it later. Extensive output options let you send text to Twitter, Facebook, App.net, email, SMS, a Calendar event, quickly save it to Dropbox or Evernote – or forward it to a growing list of other Apps such as OmniFocus, Things, Fantastical, Byword, Sparrow and more. Customize actions to fit into any workflow.

YouVersion Bible – One of the first apps available on the iPhone was YouVersion by Lifechurch.tv I love what they have done with this app and how they continue to improve it. I use it in church and I use the Bible reading plans for my daily reading at home.

Box.com – I use box.com for storing and sharing files rather than dropbox because I find Box sharing abilities much more flexible  I also downloaded the iPad app a few months back and got 50gb of storage for life.

 

Yancy’s new CD has a very cool app

roots for the journey

Yancy just came out with a brand new CD and now she has an amazing app that accompanies it.

When Yancy recorded her newest album Roots for the Journey she knew these songs were special. The music, organic, unplugged and simple was something that adults of all ages would be eager to listen to again and again. The message in the songs timeless because each song is centered on scriptures from God’s Word. Yancy spends most of her time doing family concerts and making music and worship resources that play in minivans and churches worldwide. So, how could she mix her audience that ranges from preteen all the way down to preschool (through the Little Praise Party series) with this new music she created?

So the idea/dream got a little bigger. What if she made an app to help parent teach their kids these Biblical truths? What if we could give parents tools to make these scriptures come alive to their children? Meet the Roots for the Journey App available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

The app provides family devotions, conversations, activities, prayers and more. Being an app, it isn’t just about being at home, in the living room and having spiritual time for a hour. You could do parts of the devotion on the go, in the car, during dinner or whenever your family is gathered together. There are multiple ways you can talk about and reinforce the truth of God’s Word. The song as you listen will help that message be tied to a melody that kids can latch onto and sing. Music is an amazing way to communicate. We remember songs from long ago. The same is true for your kids. So, having the music is a tool that will reinforce the lessons, conversations, activities and prayers. Most importantly we want to help families hide God’s word in their hearts. Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (NIV)

Yancy asked Children’s and Family Ministry friends from around the world to help her make these Biblical truths come alive. The app contributors are:

• Sam Luce
• Ryan and Beth Frank (K Magazine/Awana)
• Gina McClain
• Beth Guckenberger
• Dave & Beci Wakerley (Hillsong)
• Johnny Rogers (KidMo)
• Jonathan Cliff
• Jenny Funderburke
• Jason Martin
• Jen Galley
• Sara Richards
• Brian Dollar (High Voltage)
Amanda White from www.ohamanda.com did all the activities. You will love the way you can do simple activities to illustrate the truth of God’s Word to your kids.

LINKS TO THE APP:

• iPhone https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/roots-for-the-journey/id647377769?mt=8

• iPad https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/roots-for-the-journey/id647377769?mt=8

• Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.yancynotnancy.roots462&feature=search_result – t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsImNvbS55YW5jeW5vdG5hbmN5LnJvb3RzNDYyIl0.

LINK TO THE ALBUM:

• iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/roots-for-the-journey/id643556110

• YancynotNancy.com http://www.yancynotnancy.com/product-category/

Parents want to know what apps your kids are downloading?

appcertain

Like it or not the digital age is here to stay. As parents we are immigrants to this digital world that our kids are natives of. Despite its many benefits all the digital devices our kids are connected to require more from us as parents. So any time a tool comes along that makes monitoring what are kids are doing digitally I am for it. With the rise of Android, iPod, iPhones and tablet devices knowing what apps our kids are downloading would be nice.

Enter Appcertain

At AppCertain, they are passionate about computer security and motivated to discovering what behavior apps show. They are dedicated to helping us as parents understand and trust our family’s mobile devices by providing a window into the behavior of mobile apps. Recent advances in the business world have given companies greater insight into their employees’ mobile devices, and they believe we parents deserve a similar insight with respect to our families.