On The Dark Side Of Digital Nomads

In his article on working while traveling the world, Mark Manson praises the freedom and experiences he enjoys while warning potential remote workers of the overwhelming isolation he fears at times.

While many people see traveling the world and working while you do it as an incredible dream to achieve, Mark wants those people to take some time to consider how this type of lifestyle lacks deep meaningful connections that come from spending day after day with the same people. He sometimes doesn’t see his friends for months at a time.

I often think about how I want to work remotely. I want to travel the world. I want to experience all I can in my life. But I also know I am experiencing all I can in my life every day. Enjoying the experience of life is about being present in our moments with the people around us and the work we do. Great experiences don’t necessarily come from visiting incredible places, but still, I want to travel the world, to experience cultures, to find that place that feels like home. I just don’t want to do it alone, I want to travel the world with my best friend when the time is right.

I believe that software engineering is one of the most incredible careers because you truly can work on a distributed team and be highly effective. Because of modular code, extensive documentation, test-driven development, and the agile scrum method, programmers can act like honeybees where everyone goes out to their own spot and pushes their nectar to one place, GitHub! Oh sweet commits. And with tdd, if your task is to make a test work, you can do that from anywhere. Write clean modular code, have faith in your ability to problem solve (with the help of google and stackoverflow and friends on Slack), and I believe you can pretty much accomplish anything anywhere.

I want to work remotely because I want to have the flexibility to travel with friends. I want to be able to go from place to place, staying with friends, enjoying their company, laughing together and sharing in our joy while glimpsing into the beauty of their lives. I want to cherish life by enjoying more moments with those I already care deeply about and by continuing to make meaningful connections everywhere I go. So I understand how it makes sense that in order to travel the world in a deeply impactful way, I have to spend a significant amount of time in those places, truly getting to know people there in a more worthwhile and less superficial way.

This article makes me consider the type of life I want to live. Above all I want to have meaningful relationships with the people I share time with. I want to enjoy the moments of life while spreading calm and contentment to those around me. I want to work on meaningful projects that spread compassion, justice and understanding to more and more people. I want to continue to learn, to grow, to do incredible work; I want to create meaning in the world, to help people be more kind, forgiving, joyful. At the deepest level of my existence I have this drive to help people (especially the oppressed and vulnerable) live a life of peace and contentment in all ways I can, and although I don’t know where that will lead me, I know I will continue to do all I can to support this innermost feeling.

I still do want to travel. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s selfish. Why should I travel while others can barely eat? If I’m traveling to spread positivity, meaning, secular spirituality, then I think it might be a benefit to all. I try to make all of my decisions selflessly by asking — is what I’m doing a net benefit to all the people in the world? Part of being selfless is knowing that in order to help others you must also be at peace with yourself. So sometimes I have ice cream :)

If I do travel the world, and if I do work while I do it, I don’t want to feel isolated the way Mark did. I know I’ll wait to travel until I have a loving partner to share those experiences with. I want to spend my life spreading meaning and making art. I believe love is the most powerful motivation that exists in this world. Love is art, the most powerful art, and the most powerful force behind creating art. When you’re with that person you love, anywhere and everywhere feels like home. Everywhere would feel like the greatest place to be, simply because you’re together, and that would open up incredible potential to be more friendly and open to all those around since you don’t ever feel isolated or lonely. So here’s to loving, to traveling the world, to creating art, to meeting great people and forging meaningful friendships, to spreading support and positivity. I’ll keep dreaming for the moon, and if I miss, at least I’ll land among the stars. Or as Marina says, “Shoot for the moon and prepare to be encompassed by crushing darkness when you miss.” I’ll take the former.