As my last Vagabonding contribution for year 2012 – and I am glad to say that it has been a great pleasure and a serious commitment, guys – I decided to comment on an interesting article I found here. The author, classifying himself as one of the “New Rich” theorized by Timothy Ferriss’ famous bestseller, gives the life perspective’s lowdown on his profitable work experience as he travels the world. His final view, however, is far from casting an idyllic image of this lifestyle, as he says “it occurs to me that the New Rich, for all of our impressive values, are just as guilty of materialism as the old rich. It just takes a different form. Instead of an addiction to status and possessions, we’re addicted to experience and novelty. The end result is the same. Our relationships, our connections to what’s important, suffer. For the first time in three years of non-stop travel, I wish for a home.”
After reading, the natural question I have is: has the whole “digital nomad” concept of life finally exposed its own limits and faults? Isn’t it, ultimately, just another more solitary way to do business? I can only see that, in the end, a digital worker is STILL bound to his own work schedule and internet connection necessities, after all… with the aggravated understanding of his own group’s isolation. Apparently, the New Rich have reached a level where relationships, life, and possibly the same essence of travel and adventure, radiate from a computer screen. The work location really does not matter anymore: lives keep being conducted behind the comfort and isolation of internet connections and LCD screens, exploiting a code of honor in which relationships may be just taken as an umpteenth source of data – and therefore , become easily negotiable online. In my opinion, the uneasiness expressed by the author is understandable for a long-term traveler; regardless, it casts big, dark shadows on the psychological well-being of online traveling businessmen, at least under a relational point of view, as outlined in the article.
In my own long-term traveler sense, being a New Rich looks exactly like 走马看花 (zou ma kan hua), or “to watch flowers while riding on horseback”: what can be the depth of perception of someone who only experiences places in between computer stints? I am glad that someone from the group finally outlined that “digital nomads” have lost their connection… with reality. Maybe, and pardon the biased pun, if they lost their internet connections, instead, the horrible consequences may help them regain a sense of the exceptional life stories they are living… but can we/they stop thinking of profit and money as we/they travel, at least for a short while? I would like to read your opinions/experiences.