The Invisible Pain of Technology

One of my clients is famous for living with less. He made the cover of a design magazine with his 350-square-foot apartment that converts, flips, and adapts to whatever his needs are. Not a single inch of his space is ignored, and everything has its right place. His home is beautiful and simple, it looks amazing, and it functions exactly as intended. But here’s the catch:

You can see everything with your eyes.


You’ve probably experienced the pain of an unorganized life when you walk into your house and see a mess of clothes, overloaded shelves, and stacks of papers everywhere. It’s visceral. You can touch it. So eventually, most people try to do something about it. You’ve seen this — the garbage bags full of stuff at the corner, the Container Store makeover, a Marie Kondo consultation for the truly overwhelmed.

But you can’t see your technology.


It looks the same whether things are running like a well-oiled machine or if you're on the verge of collapse.

It creeps into our lives little by little, with new apps and products and services, that we’re up to our necks and feel like at any moment, something might break or disappear. You could be at the limit of your backup storage and lose your data tomorrow, yet unaware of the impending danger. Because it exists on a screen, your senses can’t observe everything piling up. At least you can see your dirty laundry on the floor.

Oh, and about my client — he had over 10 years of photos that were scattered across computers, hard drives, and a corrupted iCloud Photo Library. Despite his crowning achievements in the physical sphere, his digital life was a mess. We had to build a single library from 5 different sources, manually repairing albums and events one by one. We updated his library so that it would back up automatically and be available anywhere. All 50,000 photos.

The goal is to pay attention to your digital life the way you pay attention to your physical life. Take inventory of what you truly want, and eliminate the rest. As our lives become increasingly digital, this will be an ever more vital task. Digital simplicity is attainable, but you must look at your life and recognize what is important to make the appropriate choices.

So take a deep breath, look at the big picture, and think less.

Robbie Klein