Digital Nomads: The Evolution Of Mankind Continues Through The Digital Agee_darrellj | Jul 16, 2014
Elance was excited to sponsor a blog writing competition in South Africa, along with co-working space The Common Room. Bloggers from across the region competed for prizes and bragging rights, waxing poetic on a choice of topics from life as a digital nomad and reinventing work to achieving happiness as a freelancer. Below is the winning post, from Edward Chamberlain-Bell. Enjoy these words of wisdom.
Mankind has gone full circle from a nomadic existence to a digital experience.
Nothing defines our existence better than our activity on social media platforms, where we share everything from the mundane to the sublime with family, friends, fans, followers and cyberstalkers. We know who had burnt toast for breakfast in Peru, and we also know who is nursing a hangover in Afghanistan. Sometimes we know too much about people we don’t even know when we should be sharing those experiences with the people who are closest to us. Preferably something more substantial than burnt toast and hangovers.
Even the Bible refers to principals and principalities, but these are gradually being eroded as the digital revolution is rapidly becoming a digital revelation. The new god is not an almighty spirit in the sky, it’s wi-fi. Potential employers will scrutinise your online behaviour before offering you a job, future lovers will hunt you down and compare your previous partners, and it’s even possible that your parents are more inclined to believe what you post on Facebook before believing what you say. Perception is no longer based upon the truth, but how your life has become a digitalised representation of everything you share online.
Our economies are no longer based on gold but little bytes of zeros and ones forming a binary code of valuable information. Banks are more likely to trade your personal details than keep your money safe. We are more likely to burn plastic than ask for a cash discount. It’s no longer a cliché to tell a beggar or homeless person that we don’t carry cash because who has cash when companies stopped paying salaries in favour of the ever-efficient EFT.
As our world evolves, especially post-Web 2.0, survival of the fittest will determine how mankind survives the digital evolution. As children we were told that to get ahead in the world we needed to know how to read and write. Typing has replaced writing while search engine optimisation skills have replaced reading. Great writers would write for the love of expressing themselves eloquently through words. Today, we are more concerned if Google will like it.
This is not a criticism, just an observation, because once we embrace the existence of becoming digital nomads, it becomes quite liberating. Yes, we would all like to believe that one man can save the world or end global hunger simply by planting a trees, but the truth is that person is probably not going to be you or me. If it was going to be that easy, then why not all of us plant trees together? If we truly believed planting trees would become the almighty band-aid that could preserve our existence we’d be getting to know the names of our neighbors at weekly tree planting ceremonies. Ironically, as our cities become more densely populated, people are becoming increasingly more isolated. How many people know the names of their neighbours, or even the names of their neighbour’s children that their children play with? Oh right, they don’t.
We’ve become digital nomads in a world where our interconnectivity is defined by our broadband, and not by the people we connect with. There is still that human drive for human contact, which explains why we’re connecting through chat rooms, forums, blogs and social media platforms. We don’t write letters, we email. We don’t visit family, we Skype. And, we don’t stop to consider what is the next step in our digital evolution even though it has already happened. And, some people need to put down their pencils and stop swinging from trees to appreciate that unless they’ve upskilled themselves to function online they will face a life as redundant as an organ grinder selling pencils along the side of a road.
Commercially, the advantage of embracing a digitally nomadic lifestyle is that you are no longer bound by location, nationality or currency. You don’t even need a computer anymore because with any laptop, tablet or smartphone, your business can be transacting in twenty-four time zones a day while simultaneously earning multiple foreign currencies- while you are sipping Pina Coladas on an island resort somewhere that the NSA doesn’t even know about. When we were kids we’d mention how we enjoyed going to the beach to surf while becoming a digital nomad allows you to add that you enjoy surfing the internet while at the beach.
If you’ve never heard of the term ‘Digital Nomad’ you should Google it. It’s not a change to be feared but one to be embraced. You’re probably already more of a digital nomad than you think.
If not: Be afraid, be very afraid!