Sarbani Sen delves into the culture of cyber nomads.
Isn’t this what many of us want today? In a world of globalized brands, unified cosmopolitan style guides, hungry for life, striving for multipurpose lives where we can ally travelling, meeting new worlds, populations, cultures, bring back weird traditions, start new trends, scout, live and be lived. In short: give, take and share. Welcome to the world of cyber nomads.
No time to lose
Over the last couple of years, there has been a full-on revival of nomadism. Cheap flights and cheap or free internet connections have helped the trend to develop. Worldwide we can go and sit in a cybercafé, work all day, get good food and even go surfing real waves at the end of the day. Today work can be delivered with no mre than a laptop and still be profitable. We are witnessing the birth of contributors whose only investments are new technologies (and often free apps for the Smartphone or free applications for the laptop).
They may not even have fixed homes, no office and no fixed social anchorage. Why live permanently in the same place when you have an e-mail address and a good internet connection? Why shut up in an office when you can organize meetings or even videoconferences from Shanghai, Mexico or the south of France? So much software allows to communicate and see each other in a very stable manner (again for free!). Even with multiple countries or workstations. This can also be seen as ecological, as we don’t spend as much time, money and carbon on commuting every day.
Multi and hyper
The average cyber nomad is either hyper or multi, or both. They need to be stimulated from various sources at the same time, such as art, communication, video, languages, odours and location. For them, nothing is more monotonous than the professional routine at the same desk, day after day, with the same people, speaking the same language. There are so many examples of them: writers, DJs, dancers, journalists, videasts, travellers, yoga teachers, healers, sociologists – they all work while travelling and enjoy several home-bases. For these multitaskers, this allows more time for personal projects, usually artistic and creative, revolutionary scientific findings or deep social relations in several corners of the world almost at the same time.
When you travel often, you usually pick up and speak several languages. It’s a plus of course because you can communicate with the outside world (the real world around you). But it can also be a burden and the root of some kind of nostalgia. I love to express myself, by reading and writing in English, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Bengali – if I don’t use these languages regularly I can find myself talking to myself, simply (I suppose) because my brain needs to exercise those parts too. So we really need to be in several virtual communities and really experience them all the same time or one after the other. It can lead to some strange kind of depression when we don’t. Monoculturalism can become really unhealthy.
Cyber nomads will not like to lose time with dull projects. They are lifestyle oriented – they know what’s available out there and they’ll go and get it. They are usually connected to trends in the four corners of the world, sucking information from all sources, cross-fertilising them and building their own sociological analysis of this mega globalised and yet particular world. Funnily, they may be the protectors of cultural differences! It is quite paradoxical since they are able to build upon their worldwide expertise for globalized brands and yet pull in the particularities of each culture/society.