AWP Podcast Episode 2: Why Cal Newport Thinks Your Phone is Destroying Your Inner World

Posted in: Applying Wisdom


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Who is Cal Newport?

Cal Newport is a computer science professor at Georgetown University who also writes contrarian advice about succeeding as a student, cultivating a meaningful career, and most recently, adjusting the way we use technology so that we can lead deeper, more meaningful lives.

I highly recommend reading through his website and his books.

Why am I interviewing Cal?

Cal is the one who came up with the the idea for The Ancient Wisdom Project. I was previously just thinking about writing a research book but Cal thought it’d be more intriguing if I took the self-experiment approach and documented what I learned. As you know, I learned a lot from the project and fully credit Cal for coming up with the idea.

Cal is also one of those people who gives you good, evidence-based advice when you need it. Both in his public writing and our private conversations, he always provides me with a different perspective on a problem I’m facing.

This past year has been a bit challenging for me in that I basically wasted a year’s worth of free time. I thought I would accomplish more of my personal and professional goals but instead, a significant amount of it was spent avoiding the hard tasks I should have been doing and was instead spent browsing the interwebs and watching Netflix.

Conveniently for me, Cal recently published a book titled “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” that explores the role of modern consumer technology like smartphones and social media and how detrimental it can be to leading a fulfilling life.

On this episode, I wanted to learn what Cal thought I should do get back on track for 2020 so I didn’t waste another year browsing reddit all day.

What will you learn from this episode?

If you listen to the whole episode, you can expect to learn

  • What “digital minimalism” is and why it’s a valuable approach to technology
  • Why tech journalists are biased in the way they cover modern tech tools
  • Why if you grew up with smart phones and ubiquitous internet, you may find yourself in an existential crisis once you cut out the distractions
  • Why Cal is a fan of ancient wisdom traditions and why he thinks many modern, Western folks are interpreting it incorrectly
  • The aspects of Judaism Cal likes most
  • The advice Cal gave me about paying attention to boredom

Basically, you get a ton of information in the 55 minutes it’ll take you to finish this podcast.