We’re going to start with a visualization exercise. You’re in your work space. You’ve got a project well within your skill and job description. You’re even enjoying the task, this is what you do! You’re engaged, you’re productive, and your workflow is - Can I borrow your stapler? Did I check in with you after last week’s meeting? You hear a *ping* from the breakroom and you know the smell of fake buttery popcorn or someone’s leftovers is going to be taking up residence in your sinuses for the rest of the afternoon.
“I think that everybody should at least stop and consider if they’re living the lifestyle that they want.”
- Ben Jamin of “Kombi Life”
Okay, we can stop now. In most societies, you need to work to live. That can take many forms, and while most people are in static homes and jobs, an increasing number of people are choosing instead to be digital nomads.
What’s a digital nomad? Well, while the hippie culture’s watchwords of yesteryear included ‘tuning in and dropping out,’ today’s digital nomad - a ‘techno-hippie,’ you might say - takes it to another dimension: tune in your work portal to the nearest wifi signal, and drop out from the conventional frustrating commute to overpriced workplaces built of cubicle farms, and instead tap on your all-day laptop or tablet at your local cybercafe where, although the organic muffins and fairtrade coffee may be a bit pricey, the vibe is way more chill.
It’s just about as cool as it sounds, with cyberpunk crypto-bros moonlighting as DJs in urban centers and solarpunk vegan yogi photographers staying plugged in to their multiple income stream projects. More than just a whimsical lifestyle for driven entrepreneurial types with startup cash, the digital nomad existence is an increasingly viable, even necessary, way to live and work. For some in the past year, becoming a digital nomad has been their liferaft from getting sunk in unsustainable rent markets.
And, there are other digital nomads that have taken it even further: ditch the apartment or house entirely, and take to the road with their solar-powered #vanlife, boondocking in another national park or BLM campground every 14 days; downsizing their possessions and living space needs to minimize their carbon footprint. There’s a large chunk of the digital nomad community that just liked the idea and found it suited their already-online profession, some who’ve meant to just test it out but stuck with it instead.
You gotta admit, it doesn’t sound bad. Being able to travel, decide where you’ll work, when you’ll work, just doing it all for yourself instead of working for the Man™. Digital, social, and professional networks moving as fast as your synapses send the info, letting you stay productive and paid. Sounds great so far, but if you’re on the go how do you power all those digital devices? They’re kinda critical to the whole thing not falling apart, right? Of course there are the hotels and hostels you could stay at, and if you’re the RV type you’ve got your mobile base to work from. Many cities have multiple options for coworking & networking spaces, and of course there’s internet cafés or coffee shops. There’s always the option and sound practice of having a power bank or other portable supply, and even a growing selection of gear like solar backpacks aimed towards digital nomads.
Pretty cool, right? The massive work-from-home movement taught us that we’ve been right all along: the important part is that the needed work gets done, not that you spend a requisite minimum of 8 hours in a cubicle under fluorescent lighting a day - and you can STILL smell microwave popcorn. Stepping into the digital nomad lifestyle is usually most successful when you have an established line of work or job that’s already online. Just a few examples of jobs that translate well to the digital nomad lifestyle are travel bloggers, event and party organizers, content creators and software engineers
Or mayyybe you go to a lot of conferences and events, with expertise in digital fields like coding and gaming. Maybe not having to deal with hotels and planes and everything the bloody hell else would be cool, you’ve thought. Maybe, juuuust maybe, you’ve gone and purchased a robust BEAST of a vehicle. A powerful relic of the before times that’s only a few cosmetic external hoses (and, in the opinion of this writer, maybe sweet LED lights on the inside) away from being a mobile base of operations worthy of any cyberpunk aesthetic.