There are no two ways about it: we are living in a virtual world.
Smartphones as thin as razors, weightless laptops, app developers busting at the seams, everyone across the globe has the latest-this and the latest-that.
In fact the iPhone, or name-your-brand, that was just released last year is already passé, having been replaced by the latest, greatest, newer, thinner, sleeker, cooler, must have model.
The person in front of you in their car is texting. The person behind you on her motorbike is on her smartphone. No one needs a camera any longer; it’s far better to use your smartphone’s built-in camera and immediately upload photos and videos to share with all of your social media outlets: Vine, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, Google+. Often all with the click of one button. Obvi.
Yoga? Just download the hottest new app which offers over 300+ yoga poses and you never have to set foot in a yoga class again (insert: sarcasm font).
It’s no wonder society has veered a bit off center. How can we navigate this thick, intricate, twisty, complex—at most times overwhelming—virtual world and remain sane?
Better yet, is there a way to use social media to our advantage and at the same time use it as a means to live the life of our dreams?
Is social media and the virtual world actually an answer to our prayers rather than technological madness?
I left America nearly six years ago. Unsure of what the future held, I knew only one thing: I must explore life, I must discover myself and I must travel. Two years and 12 countries later when I returned to the US, I was a changed person.
No longer was it possible for me to work an office job, work for someone else, or do any work which did not fully embody true freedom, passion and heart. I knew I had to change my life, but I had no idea how.
While in the Far East and blessed with a MacBook I began building a couple of Facebook pages. Still working for others, it was a godsend to be living my passion: teaching yoga, which offered a stable income from which I could further explore other passions.
Expanding my heart to follow more of my passions while teaching yoga, I drew upon childhood dreams of making jewelry. As my jewelry design work grew in popularity it became evident the next step was a website.
And so began my true introduction into the life of a Virtual Nomad or Digital Gypsy, as we are called.
Digital Nomads—individuals that leverage wireless digital technologies to perform their work duties, and more generally conduct their lifestyle in a nomadic manner. They use new technologies like wireless internet, smartphones, Voice over IP and cloud-based applications to conduct business, work remotely and earn an income wherever they live or travel.
Social media is offering us a solution, an alternative to the Rat Race: a life where one is imprisoned in one location, working a mediocre job which somewhat satisfies true desires but rarely one’s true passions, only to pay bills for material goods which keep cyclically locked the Rat Racer into this very scenario.
I know, I know, I know. If you are sitting at your desk, at your office, reading this article, you are having a reaction. Your body is crying out, one way or another. These thoughts and ideas are by no means new, but you are hearing them again, or maybe hearing them for the first time.
Surely a lifestyle free from burdens, free from financial ties, community responsibilities, mortgages and car payments is not for the faint of heart. It requires great courage, strength, self-direction, inner discipline and self-motivation.
The jump to embrace social media and a virtual living/working space may also take reaching the cliff’s edge, and you have two choices: either jump and die, or jump and fly. You simply know you cannot continue on in your life the way you are living; you need freedom.
If social media is new for you, that’s okay. If it’s scary and overwhelming, that’s okay too. When I first started out I barely knew what Twitter was, had no idea about #hashtags or how to use them, and Instagram was light years away in my universe.
Nowadays you can hire social media managers for your online business, whether you are offering e-commerce, content, online workshops, music, etc. It almost doesn’t matter what you are offering as long as there is a strong social media presence behind it.
In truth, while some people perceive social media to be the devil and the worst thing that has happened to mankind, I view social media as our salvation. Now we are free to travel where we want and remain connected with loved ones (Facebook, Skype, Gmail, Facetime).
Any one of us can take off to live in the most remote region of Africa to run a non-profit project—for example, Alissa & Adam, Co-Founders of The Cookbook Project—live out of tents in the African Safari while connecting on laptop computers to the grid in order to run an organization. Some may find this truth horrifying. I find it inspiring, encouraging and wildly freeing.
Social media and modern technology free us up to fill our life with people we love, things we love to do, spend time on the things that truly matter and to follow our heart.
So I say, “Thank you, social media.” In fact, you are the reason I am writing this article today for elephant journal from my comfy organic cafe in Hipstertown, Anywhere. May we all get to live the life of our dreams. Thrive in the beauty and benefits of Social Media Awakening!
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Editor: Travis May
Photo: Tobias Koepe at Flickr