October 13, 2012, 7:35 AM — I'm a digital nomad. Almost all my worldly possessions are in storage. I'm currently, but temporarily, living in Sparta, Greece, and have been doing so for more than two months. Next month, I'll be moving to Africa.
You may have heard of us digital nomads. We use mobile computing and the Internet to work from wherever. You'll find us on any of hundreds of digital nomad-focused blogs. A small handful of these blogs are fantastic, but most of them are annoying fluff. ( Here are some of the great ones.)
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The fluffy digital nomad bloggers tend to show pictures of themselves on a deserted beach or mountain top, which makes the lifestyle look picturesque, but lonely and pathetic. (Just scan ( Google Image Search for the term "digital nomad" for some choice examples.)
Digital nomad blog posts gravitate to breezy lists of jobs that lend themselves to the digital nomad lifestyle (freelance writer, freelance illustrator) and justifications about why being a digital nomad is awesome (you get to work on the beach, no commute).
Taken as a whole, the digital nomad blogs are shallow, useless and grossly misleading.
What's wrong with most of those blogs
The digital nomad lifestyle is often interesting and exciting and people want to express that. So when they're on the beach with a laptop, they feel like that's a digital nomad scenario so they take a lot of pictures of that.
They don't photograph the sweaty slog through the dirty city earlier in the week, or the 12-hour bus ride, or the two-hour hunt for Wi-Fi, or the nine hours spent in a dark, shabby room meeting a deadline. They don't photograph the power failures, the plumbing, the traffic, the mosquitos, the poverty, the roving packs of feral dogs, the corrupt policemen, the mangled street beggars and other such things they encountered along the way. That might compromise their relentless sales pitch for the idyllic digital nomad lifestyle.
As a result, the public image of digital nomadism is all postcard-perfect landscapes, charming restaurants and relaxing hammocks in the shade designed to torture the cubicle-bound.
What it's really like to be a digital nomad
Living as a digital nomad is exactly like working from home in some ways, and totally unlike it in others.