Digital Nomads – Who Are They, And Why Do They Matter?

Boom ShikhaDigital Nomad Leave a Comment

I dislike using the word ‘Underground Revolution’, because it makes Digital Nomads, DNs for short, seem like some nefarious rock band. But they are far cooler than that, in my opinion and that’s not because I claim to be part of that not-so-nefarious group. I think Digital Nomads matter in a way like most important revolutionary groups matter.

I have been speaking to a lot of people in mainstream businesses, and they have told me the same thing over and over again.

‘I first heard the term Digital Nomad (DN) a few months ago, and I had no idea what that meant.’ Or ‘I didn’t know that I was a digital nomad, until a few months back, when I heard someone describe themselves as such.’

What’s In A Name? A Rose By Any Other Name..

Does the definition of the group or the naming of it matter that much? Not really, unless you realize that revolutions happen because a group of people consider themselves to be part of a select cache, and are willing to fight for that group’s safety, and precedence. I don’t think DNs will have to go into battle anytime soon, but I want to delineate why the naming of a group matters.

I have spoken to many DNs, who became so before the advent of the internet. They used a fax machine, and snail mail to communicate with their bosses. They weren’t necessarily ‘Digital’ Nomads, but they were nomads and they worked on the road. These people would tell me that they had no idea that they were part of this awesome group of people who worked on the road, and were free to travel the world. It gave them a sort of belonging. They didn’t feel lonely anymore. They weren’t just cast-offs, or rebels, or outcasts. They were part of something bigger than themselves. It gave them a sense of safety and security to belong.

Oh, You Are A DN, Too?

That’s why anyone who claims to be part of the DN crowd, instantly, gets credibility and acceptance into a group of extremely cliquey people. You might be in a coworking space in Ubud, Bali, and the minute everyone knows that you are one of them, all of a sudden doors open up like never before. Collaborations happen at the speed of light. Coffees and dinner dates are set up in moments.

People like people like them. It is a fact of life. I wanted to write this post, because even though there are Digital Nomads out there, I don’t see a lot of stuff written up about them yet. Perhaps, we are keeping a wild secret all to ourselves, but I don’t think that’s appropriate. I want the world to know what DNs are all about, and why people should care about it.

Who Are They? What Is The Basic Definition Here?

If you broke down the essence of Digital Nomads, they are laptop workers.

Instead of sitting in a cubicle somewhere in a building reminiscent of 1984, they sit in cool co-working spaces or coffee shops all over the world. They can work from anywhere in the world, where there is a decent internet connection, and they carry their laptops on their backs, like American Soldiers carry food and water.

The laptop is their sustenance. Without their laptop, they are deader than a beached whale. They have no hope. They can’t use someone else’s laptop. God, even the thought of working on a borrowed laptop gives me hives. I have systems set up on my laptop that took years to set up. Years!

So, let’s come back to it again – they are digital because they work on their laptops and they are nomads, because they can work from anywhere in the world, and they choose to.

Reddit defines DNs like this

Digital Nomads are individuals that leverage technology in order to work remotely and live an independent and nomadic lifestyle.

What Kind Of Work Do They Do?

There are so many permutations and combinations here, that I can’t even begin to talk about it all.

Some DNs are laptop entrepreneurs, so they work on their own online businesses based in the ether or based in a specific country. Some of them are, remote workers, so they work for companies back home, but the company being a start-up or a smart corporation, has given them the leeway to work from anywhere in the world. Yet some others are, Drop Shipping maniacs, or FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) fanatics.

They kind of work Digital Nomads do, doesn’t matter, truly. The main tenet of being a DN is that we are working with our weapon of choice, mostly MacBook Airs or Pros, or other laptops, and we can live and work anywhere in the world.

Work From Home DNs?

Now, a lot of people have jobs that allow them to work from home – they are not necessarily Digital Nomads. A DN would try not to take a job that keeps them stuck in one place. They would literally shrivel up and die, because they are all gypsies at heart, and they need to move.

I know some DNs, who pick up and move every 90 days, just because. Just because they fucking can! Damn it, that’s the life! (Check out this article for more).

Now don’t despair, if your job doesn’t fall into these categories.

The main thing about DNs is that because they are such a new group, and such a new definition, that a lot of stuff is pretty much up in the air right now. Fuck, if you think you belong, you belong. Who cares about everyone else?

Creativity And Freedom Are Big Values For Digital Nomads

I have noticed some themes across the DNs I have met. Now these are just themes, and there are obviously variations to it. But this is what I have noticed. Of course, creativity and freedom are the two things that runs across 99% of the DNs, I have come across. They all take part in some creative endeavour, they are all creatively living their lives, they exhibit creativity in their work. And they are freedom buffs – feeling stifled or suffocated if they are held down in one place by force.

There are a lot of vegans, and vegetarian DNs. Yoga, Surfing, Action and Adventure sports are also really big. They are also more open to all random sorts of healing techniques, like Sufi Twirling, Dance Mandala, Ecstatic Dance, Meditation of all kinds, Vipassana retreats, Ayahuasca, micro-dosing, Music Festivals, Burning Man, and so much more.

I think, there is a tendency for DNs to be outcasts.

I definitely felt like I didn’t fit into the 9-5 mould, and I felt so crazy in my head, having to stay there. I always wanted to leave. Always felt restless and out of place. Now that I am free to be who I am, I feel comfortable.

At every DN meet up, I always end up seeing several of these groups colliding with each other, when they notice, ‘Oh, you have been to Burning Man? I’ve been to Burning Man.’ Or ‘You’ve done an Ayahuasca ceremony? I have done one too!’

Why Should DNs Matter To Corporations?

Not only are DNs changing the face of the business world, by building businesses on their own that are making them six or seven figure incomes, and giving them the freedom to live anywhere in the world…. But also, it is going to start putting more and more pressure on corporations to let people work from anywhere in the world, as long as there is an internet connection.

I’m not a child, and I don’t need constant baby-sitting. I will get my work done, if I know there is work to be done. Being in a traditional 9-5 job is draining to me, because it means that not only that I am stuck in one place forever, but also, I am stuck in the same time space forever. I have to work 9-5, and nothing else. I cannot wake up early and go to yoga in the middle of the day. Or wake up late, and go to a party at night in the middle of my workday.

Micromanaging kills productivity.

New research from University of Pennsylvania professor Alexandra Michel finds highly educated employees work more when given autonomy over their schedules. In fact, they’ll often work to the point of exhaustion.

We Want To Be Autonomous and Flexible

The flexibility that we crave is invisible in some corporations.

I want the autonomy to work on the stuff I care about, and work on it when I want, with the people I want. This is not practical or possible in corporations.

I feel corporations are either going to have to adapt and change their paradigm. Or, dissolve as more and more people move away from them to start their own thing.

Some corporations are already seeing how much more productive people can be when they are allowed to work where they want and how they want. See below:

Nicholas Bloom, a professor of economics at Stanford University, teamed up with Ctrip, China’s largest travel agency, to test some ideas about telecommuting. Over nine months, about 250 workers volunteered for the experiment; half were randomly chosen to work at home and half in the office.

At the end of the experiment, employers found that the home-based employees worked more than office workers — 9.5 percent longer — and were 13 percent more productive. They also were judged to be happier, as quitting rates were cut in half.

Perhaps DNs Will Cause Borders To Disappear?

This is just my own thought experiment, but I wonder, if the proliferation of Digital Nomads will cause world borders to dissipate a bit? The European Union is one such effort, although Brexit is proving that sometimes border dissolving doesn’t really work for all parties. Especially if the interests are monetary.

But will the easy movement of our generation and future generation, cause governments to rethink stringent borders, and visa policies? I don’t know, although I found this article interesting on the creation of One World Order.

I know that when I was a child, my parents moved us around everywhere because they went where the jobs and money were. We were immigrants, true and true. Every few years, like gypsies, we picked up everything and moved. I thought all of that moving would have given me a distaste for travel, and it has for my parents. But I love it! I love the adventure, and my gypsy heart craves more and more.

Perhaps, as immigration slows down, but digital nomadism picks up, borders will take on a new meaning? We can only wait and see.

Why Should DNs Matter To You?

If you’ve ever dreamed of travelling the world, while working, living in different places for a stint at a time, trying out local cuisines and culture, learning the language, and more, then you can learn a thing or two from Digital Nomads.

I know so many people who dream about doing something like what I am doing, but are too afraid. DNs have created a brand of fearlessness that’s all about living life first, asking questions later.

The deal is that life is short, and everyone knows it. But most of us spend it living in one place as if that is the only choice we have. This quote sums it up perfectly.

“I always wonder why birds choose to stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth, then I ask myself the same question.” – Harun Yahya (author from Ankara)

Why are we pretending like we have no choice in the matter? Why do we stay in one place, living zombie like lives, as if that is the only way to do it?

Oh, But Other People Can Do It, Not I

‘You can do this, but I can’t.’ I hear this more times than I can bear to hear. For some reason, people attribute a sort of special characteristic to DNs. They tell us, we are different, and that’s why we are free.

It just isn’t true. There are people from all backgrounds, races, countries, genders, orientations, and so much more. Who are living all over the world, as Digital Nomads.

If they can do it, anyone can do it. If I can do it, then you can as well. There is nothing distinguishing you from I. Nothing!

Nothing! Nothing!

The only thing you require is a passport and a laptop. In my opinion, most people have both. If not two of each, sometimes.

So what are you waiting for? Contact me and let’s get you started on this journey.

Boom Shikha

About the Author
Boom Shikha

Boom Shikha

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Boom Shikha is a wanderluster, yogi, and spiritual being hoping to use her talents as a communicator and an INFJ to bring peace and purpose to more people of this world. Read More

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