Judging Digital Nomads

I can’t be the only one who finds these “work hard anywhere” photos in Instagram as silly and shady, can I?

When I work, I look at screens. My sight and thought are completely glued there. I am focused. In flow.

If I am at some place nice, then I want to enjoy the view and soak in the ambience. Be fully present and immerse myself in the experience.

I’d like to sit lakeside, overlooking hills and mountains, at the beach, or even in an Instagrammable hip cafe WITHOUT being distracted by my laptop and phone.

I found that I can’t be productive outdoors. I need to be somewhere with comfortable air conditioning, stable internet connection, and proper lighting.

I packed breakfast and went to a lakeside one time. After the breakfast I see I won’t be able to make it in time for a conference call. So I decided to wait it out and join the call right there on my phone. Too chilly and windy to think and participate fully.

Real question: what types of things do you get done at the beach? What type of things can’t wait till you are back? I personally can’t imagine getting things done with the sun, the sand, and the sticky humid salty air.

I understand the point of these pictures is to signal location independence and time flexibility. Both symbolyse social status. They imply freedom. “I run six figures business anywhere. This month from this paradise island in Thailand, next month I go surfing in Goa.”

But then.. what is so wrong about being someplace nice and not being fully “present”? it’s also an interesting combination of event worth experiencing at least once. For example sitting someplace pretty and be fully focused on your conversation partner. To sit someplace new, and listen to music. To read books in exotic places… I find these less silly. But they are essentially the same. Aren’t they?

Experience is not just about seeing and hearing. It’s made up by the combination of all senses. So having your sight and attention someplace else does not invalidate or degrade any experience.

Not using or maximising all senses does not make an experience less pure.

It’s just another experience.

I forgot that often there is a gap or mismatch between what I thought my intention is and what my real (conscious or unconscious) intentions are.

It takes constant and deliberate effort to close this gap within myself, let alone with others. I forget that I perceive only a very narrow and compressed slice of reality and I am bad at modelling other people’s minds.

Sometimes the real purpose of sitting down to work at someplace cool is not to get things done, and that’s okay.

So these pics are just snapshots of people capturing their life experience and moments to remember. “Been there done that”.

OK understood it better now.

We do what we do.

We often don’t even know why we do the things we do ourselves.

So if we don’t understand why someone else do what they do, 1) you are missing a part of their context and 2) the only helpful thought for you to hold is to trust that they are doing the best they can with all they think they have.

But I’ll still analyse the heck out of it and make hypotheses anyway. Still gonna judge, still find it silly, but eh…

Also published on Medium.

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