Podcast: Exploring ‘Digital Minimalism’ by Cal Newport

In this episode of the Toy Photographers Podcast, Janan Lee (@spideygoeshygge) and I discuss Digital Minimalism, a book by Cal Newport. Why? Because the new year is often accompanied by New Year’s Resolutions. Personally, I love them! But what happens when my new year’s goal to use social media less runs headlong into my favorite high value activity: toy photography?

Of course I can be a toy photographer and not post to any social media platforms. But there is a certain aspect to the hobby that is social—an element that takes place online and I enjoy very much. Since Janan is known for his occasional digital sabbaticals, I invited him on the podcast to discuss the pros and cons of social media, Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism and how we can approach our digital lives with more intention.

I hope you enjoy our discussion.

My Miyagi cutting the cord, Photo: Janan Lee, @spideygoeshygge

Definition of 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, Digital Minimalism
Three crucial benefits provided by solitude: “New ideas; an understanding of the self; and closeness to others,” Photo: Janan Lee, @spideygoeshygge
Seek activities that require real-world, structured social interactions instead of low-bandwidth clicks, Photo: Janan Lee, @spideygoeshygge

Thank you!

Thank you, Janan, not only for providing these awesome images for our podcast, but for helping me start my new year off right!

Do you have any resolutions for this new year? What do you think about the concept of digital minimalism? Is it feasible or do toy photographers get a pass because this is our “high value” activity? Is there a way we can bring even higher value to the hobby?

Please join the discussion by leaving your comments below. I want to know what you think about digital minimalism.

~ Shelly


  1. Matthew Wyjad

    This year I’m commiting to avoid digital minimalism. I’ve decided to try and shoot everyday. Without social media to keep me honest i would probably quite quickly. But I have decided to kick photography training into high gear. I would like to get back into photography for work at some point and this is a way to get in the groove. I will probably hate it at some point, but that’s work, and I’m trying to commit to the time for professional reasons.

    Other year commitments… buy no new toys for myself. Especially unti i shoot all my current toys.

    I’m also trying to train to get comfortable shooting without light meters. This is another reason I’m teying to shoot regularly and a lot. Hopefully be the end of the year i will be pretty settled with this and so be able to go and shoot film with confidence.

    I suppose that is a form of digital minimalism… training hard with digital to wean myself off of it.

    • Matthew I applaud you for embarking on an amazing photographic journey. The thrust of Digital minimalism isnt to take social media away – it is to use it with intention. You control how you use it rather than being at the whim of the tech companies. It seems you’ve found your solution to this dilemma. I look forward to watching our journey unfold on MeWe!

    • Matt I did the one photo a day challenge last year. It was very rewarding. It was the first time in my life that I completed a new year’s resolution. The idea was that I would take 1 photo a day, to reset myself and to do something that makes me happy once a day. I originally did it just for me, but I posted the photos and a following grew.

      Good luck with the project. I can’t wait to see what you do over the next year.

  2. I loved this episode. I think the concept of digital minimalism is warranted especially nowadays, when everyone and everything is so reliant on social media and the internet. I love the idea of breaking away from it all however, I am not sure how feasible that is. I think it is definitely good, to minimize and limit the amount of time spent. And there is a value in that. Like, all things use in moderation. For me, I only use Instagram and now meWe. I do have Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat but rarely use them. I also tend not to spend a lot of time on those sites.

    As to your question about whether or not you should be responding to all your comments. I can see how that could be hard for bigger accounts, and for someone with a larger following. But, for me I respond to all of them, I am always thinking they spent time to comment, I need to thank them or try to interact.

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