Why the Internet Destroys Geography

The Internet Destroys Geography

The Internet Age is eradicating old ideas about geographical boundaries that used to keep us tied down to particular towns, cities, and countries. Now a person can work for clients in Shanghai from a computer in Costa Rica while their project team checks in from San Francisco, New York, and Eastern Europe.

Sound like science fiction? Many people already live this lifestyle. They are the location independent. This hyper-mobile class of digital natives will not only become more common, but soon they will become the norm.

But the Herd lags behind. Most of us are still trapped by outmoded, outdated, and obsolete models of forced collocation. The companies that loudly trumpet the “bigger is better” mantra also by-and-large don’t like to see flexible work arrangements where they can’t monitor your time constantly.

Thankfully, a new megatrend is emerging.

Where you work, where you live, and what currency you get paid in no longer have any relationship to one another.

Tim Ferriss in The Four Hour Workweek talks about earning in U.S. Dollars, paying his team with Rupees, and funding his lifestyle with Pesos. None of this geoarbitrage works without the connective tissue that is the internet. And that connective tissue will only get better, faster, and stronger as time goes on.

The old life scripts dictated that you bought the largest house with the biggest mortgage you could qualify for. Then you lived and worked for the same company for forty years or more and retired with your defined benefits pension.

How many people do you know who get to live this lifestyle today? Not many, I suspect.

Instead, workers today change careers six or seven times. Digital natives will not only increase this number, they will also question the fundamental assumption of having only one single-track career at a time. Why not be a teacher, a singer/song-writer, and an IT consultant all at the same time?

And why not do it from anywhere in the world?

Geography is an analog technology

Embracing an agile lifestyle allows you to change locations when you please or settle into a place for extended periods too. Even if all you are doing is moving around within the United States, the new world of work gives you the freedom to decouple work from geography.

The internet now allows you to work from anywhere. The Rise of the Rest means you can find air travel and fantastic housing anywhere in the world at affordable prices. Technology is even beginning to translate spoken language for you. And despite all the negative media hype, the world is a safer place today than it has ever been in the past.

So what’s keeping you from a location independent lifestyle?

Image by Philippe Put.

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