Let Go to Grow: On a Blogger’s Decision to Trade Social Media for a Quieter Life by Cal Newport

Let Go to Grow: On a Blogger’s Decision to Trade Social Media for a Quieter Life

A reader recently pointed me toward an interesting essay. It was written by a blogger and podcaster named Mika. “I’ve thought about how to start this post FOR MONTHS,” she begins, before building to her reveal:

“When I hear my instincts from my heart, I have learned that it serves me well to listen.

So one day, when I felt a thud in my heart that said “Let social media go” – I paid attention. And then it came again, and again, and again. “Let it go.” I started to question it and ask why I was feeling this. So towards the end of last year, I started questioning the role of social media in my life, comparing and contrasting the pros and cons of it. I’ve even taken breaks before so I thought about those times, too. Then it pretty much dawned on me as the following words were impressed upon me in a real, gut-punching kind of way:

We were not made for this.

I have tears in my eyes just now typing that.”

It’s not that Mika hated social media; she notes that it allowed her to interact with “truly awesome, good-hearted people,” and has helped her “achieve professional goals.” The problem is that it always demanded more:

“It’s endless opportunities of things I can do, share, say, discuss. It’s also an endless source of people I can serve in some way. It never turns off, the possibilities are infinite, and it just keeps going – and so does my mind and energy.”

One of Mika’s revelations during the past two months spent in lockdown was the degree to which “living a quieter, less hectic, more inwardly-focused life” resonated. She wanted to make this minimalist embrace of less permanent. But social media made that stillness impossible for her.

So she stopped using it. (“A blogger who is not on Instagram?? What’s the point?”, she jokes. My response: “Welcome to the club! You just doubled its size.”)

Mika is one of several stories I’ve heard recently about a pandemic-induced departure from social media. A commitment to simplicity and presence is a key component to many peoples’ deep reset, and social media can prove a stubborn obstacle to achieving this goal. This reality highlights one of the trickiest aspects of cultivating a deep life: it’s not just about eliminating bad things; sometimes it’s also necessary to remove the merely good to gain better access to the great.

A concept that Mika summarizes towards the end of her essay with a simple phrase that helped guide her through this transition: “let go to grow.”


I’m always interested in stories of people taking dramatic steps to cultivate a deeper life. Feel free to share at author@calnewport.com. Relevant pictures are welcome.

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