A select few people in the world have the luxury of traveling wherever they want, working remotely, and living in the top 1% of the world. For those of you wondering, if you earn more than $34,000 annually, that’s you. The remote part isn’t everyone of course, yet watch enough YouTube or read enough blogs and you’ll find there are more people selling a particular lifestyle than can actually live it.
Reminds me of a story I heard once about someone who wrote a book on how to be a millionaire for $1, with a single page that reads, sell a book for $1 to a million people. The truth is though, for some non-insignificant number of people, including myself, the world is a video game of adventure. Pick a place, go, stay for a while, live, explore, enjoy life. But then why are so many people depressed?
Lens Distortion On And Offline
The reason I’m writing this is because not only is YouTube burnout a thing but a lot of bloggers I know have experienced the same. Suicide rates have been rising sharply in the United States (the trend is reversed across Europe) although undoubtedly depression is a worldwide issue. The world has become a smaller place it seems but the connection portal is a very singular one.
Traveling now is screen-hopping for a lot of people – moving a lens or laptop screen from one place to the other. Sharp, illuminated pixels on top of destinations which have become a blurry background. As the viewer, if you’re not seeing the same thing, there’s an unintentional connotation that you’ve missed, or are missing, something.
The problem is the wide-angle lens. As Dan Harmon puts it,
“…the knowledge that nothing matters, while accurate, gets you nowhere. The planet is dying, the sun is exploding, the universe is cooling, nothing’s gonna matter; the further back you pull the more that truth will endure. But when you zoom in on Earth, when you zoom in to a family, when you zoom into a human brain and a childhood and experience, you see all these things that matter.
Knowing the truth, which is that nothing matters, can actually save you in those moments… Once you get through that terrifying threshold of accepting that, then every place is the center of the universe and every moment is the most important moment and everything is the meaning of life.”
You can lose sight of that through a screen.
A lot of people look happy online but most are exaggerated caricatures of cartoonish enthusiasm. They’d never say so, lest hurt their brand, and the illusion can take creator and the consumer somewhere they shouldn’t be. Our interactions have moved from being connections to becoming a commodity. A larger majority of people are taking to Instagram or blogging to becoming “influencers” – but what are they influencing us to do or feel?
Cocktails at the beach are fun occasionally. Online it looks like everyone is drinking at the beach all the time. They’re not. And if they are, they probably should seek some help. (Don’t judge me.) Before any kind of post goes up remember whoever is posting probably asked themselves 50 times first, how can I get the most people to click on this?
A lot of the time, the answer sounds like, “it’s so wonderful how cheap so and such place is!” (Or butts. Butts work too.) Few want to talk about why it’s that way, that many digital nomads are benefiting from centuries of colonialism working with corporations who promised they’d do no evil.
Because, if you’re at the bottom looking up, it’s game you can’t escape. You’ve got to join knowing you’re being sandbagged by an opponent you won’t beat while they play by different rules. For us lucky ones, philosophically, when you look at the league it’s a game that doesn’t have to be.
The servers running this website, Facebook, the Internet are polluting the world rapidly to a point where it might not be able to sustain human life and… well, it’s all become overwhelming. Everyone is happy, with a nice butt, drinking endless cocktails at the beach, why am I the only one thinking about this?
You’re not. I’m not.
All of it seems daunting until you remember some truths traveling can teach you: people are fundamentally good. We could all be a little nicer to each other. All lifestyles have their good and bad. To someone somewhere in the world, what you’re doing, where you’re living, the food on your dinner plate, is exotic.
Be wary of anyone trying to sell you a map to a destination you can only get to in your head. There is no set path and sunsets look beautiful everywhere. You can travel around the world a million times but without putting the camera down or looking away from the screen, you’ve not moved very far past a self-imposed border. Consciously reminding yourself the border is there, whether you’re behind the camera or in front of it, helps you see the world with fresh eyes. And actual human eyes.
Traveling doesn’t solve all of your problems and staying put doesn’t entirely cause them either. Your urge to move or not and whether you do or not is the only measuring stick that matters. In the end, there’s an invisible distance between your ears that needs to be traversed – and that journey never ends. Nobody has found the destination, we’re all just wanderers in our own heads. Don’t forget to focus on that trip, no matter where the road takes you.
Please, now enjoy a drink of your choice, on me… photos of it, optional.