Great article that really highlights the negative aspects of Digital Nomadism. I work with some folks that do this, and when we talk about it, they can't understand why I would want to just stay in my medium-sized city and travel a few times a year. Like, why wouldn't you want to spend 6 months a year in Thailand? It's such a no-brainer!
And for me, it's just sort of mind-boggling that you'd jet set around the world. We own a home. We have friends and family. We have a great dog and probably kids in the future. We've built something here that we like. Yes, I know that the weather is great/everything is cheap/people are nice in City, Country, but the lifestyle just doesn't appeal to me. I like being at home.
One thing I'll say though is that the loneliness can extend to the non-Nomad remote worker as well, though. Not that long ago, I worked at a startup in my city where I came into the office every day. I really liked it, I just wanted to do something different. And now I miss the camaraderie, going out to lunch with work buddies, happy hours, and just getting in a physical room and talking through tough problems. Sorry, a few Google hangouts a week does not replace that.
Are all those things mentioned above worth sacrificing for the additional flexibility, coming and going when I please, waking up when I want, working on the things I want to work on? I don't know. Some days it feels like it is, some days not so much.
Why does remote work need to be conflated with "digital nomadism"? I have worked remotely almost my entire work life (I loathed working in an office each time I went back), but I've never done the digital nomad thing. It's never appealed to me, nor is it very cost effective unless you want to throw all of your stuff into storage while you travel.
I am still perplexed at how companies push offices as some kind of hyper-collaborative space and yet every time I visit those offices, most people have noise-cancelling headphones on because the ambient noise is insanely distracting.
Many of the negatives pointed out in this article are present in jobs where you go into a physical office. Just like how you can know two married people that exist in the same physical space and are terribly lonely and barely know each other anymore. Or what about jobs where you go into an office with terrible coworkers that you cannot escape, because you are required to be at the office? Funny enough, I had to leave a co-working space for the exact same reason -- a single person that was beyond annoying and would not be quiet.
Every time I get into my car during rush hour, I remember why I work from home. I just talked to a recruiter recently and they were OK with remote, but they required that I go to stand-ups, every Monday, which would be a round-trip two hour commute, mostly sitting in stop-and-go traffic. And that would be time I would not be getting paid for.
"Digital Nomadism" is a pretty vague term, most people stop the "nomadic" part of it within a year or two. The need for stability is a realization that everyone must discover themselves. Then the label turns from "Digital Nomad" to "Location Independent".
It's great to be able to choose where you live, what your routine will be, and who you surround yourself with. As a remote worker, you are in charge of all these things which would normally be decided by your company. You'd live near the office, your routine would be determined by your work hours, and you'd be surrounded by your colleagues at the office. All pre-determined.
However, sometimes when we have so much choice, and we must make these choices ourselves, we can get a bit lost. Without concrete requirements, it's easy to get yourself into the wrong routines and forget to properly plan out what you want to do each day, where you want to go, and who you want to see. It's easy to spend a few days in a row without even leaving your house or apartment. You can end up ordering all your food from delivery apps and doing your shopping online.
So it takes a conscious effort to remain happy. It's really a day to day endeavor. You cannot just put in a bunch of effort for a few days in a row and then just veg out for the rest of the week. The brain needs to be constantly stimulated by changing environments and real face to face social engagement.
> The brain needs to be constantly stimulated by changing environments and real face to face social engagement.
This is so true. I have just discovered it recently. Traditional office and commute routines simply do some of this work for you, although inefficiently and incompletely. You can be in charge of it, as today's technologies allow more and more people to do it, but you cannot altogether dismiss this very real human need.
As a recent grad I spend two grand of my company’s money every week traveling to new and interesting places all around the country to solve interesting problems. I don’t pay rent and everything I need is free Monday to Friday. On the weekends I fly for free to all sorts of fun places around the country where my friends live.
Having only a suitcase of possessions is very freeing, and I’m saving tremendous amounts of money.
I loved traveling for work for about 2 years (traveling 4 times a year overseas for a week). After that it was just horrible. Once you start having pets and spouses and kids, it becomes a complete nightmare. Especially if you don't live near a lot of family who can help while you're gone. Eating food on the bed jetlagged in the hotel after another way-too-long day gets old.
I've just about used up my huge cache of frequent-flyer miles. I still have a credit card that generates points I can transfer into a few airlines or hotels if I want, but I'm glad to be done with the amount of time I spent at airports, on planes and in hotels.
Different people enjoy different things. For some people, traveling is fulfilling and exhilarating. For other people being in unfamiliar settings with unfamiliar culture and language is much less fun.
And even within that, some people can enjoy travel up to a certain point. Might be fun to travel for work once a month, but not for 3 out of 4 weeks. I traveling for my first job where I was gone 60-80% of the time and it was fun, but after a year it got old.
Yes, different people enjoy different things. I'm not claiming that nobody enjoys weekly work travel. I'm claiming that it's overly glorified - something like 80% of people will say "oh you're so lucky you get to do that!" when in reality only a fraction of them would enjoy it and most of them would hate it.
I used to love travel but too much work travel killed my passion for it in all forms. Now I dread flying anywhere and staying even in suites(with points) in hotels is just meh. I'd rather be home with my dog and wife and familiar stuff.
I work in a place where we have to travel occasionally (depending on the project - I rarely travel but some colleagues are always abroad) and new hires usually think that's exciting until they do it once or twice.
> I work with some folks that do this, and when we talk about it, they can't understand why I would want to just stay in my medium-sized city and travel a few times a year.
I think the biggest problem is that if you DON'T want that, then society really isn't set up to allow you do that at all. Society is entirely set up for you to stay in one place, and begrudgingly gives you a few weeks vacation to see somewhere else. Even in tech, if you want to have a good chance of making industry median money you either need to be very specialized or live in one area. At the same time, even when the butts are in seats, half of meetings involve 2 or 3 different locations anyway.
Of course, what you value and want to get out of life may be very different than the average nomad.
I've worked for a fully remote startup, and you've nailed all the points. Remote can't replace local community (being a digital nomad sucks once the novelty has worn off, and is impossible to do with a family unless you own your own business) and in-person interactions at work (coffee and lunch with coworkers). I prefer to be at a job that had an office, but still allows me to work remote most of the month. I don't anticipate going back to a full remote org unless it was just myself doing consulting (because fully remote does not always equal schedule flexibility).
I've been remote for almost 8 years now. I love it and dread ever having to go back into an office. Faking productivity for show when the workload is low was the worst feeling, as if I was wasting my time and life. Plus I have social anxiety and the pressure to 'fit in' was overwhelming.
Now I work from home where my wife and toddler are. Being home to educate her is worth more than just about anything. I don't have to drive 2 hours every day just to be an ass in a seat. Two hours where all I do is sit in a car and wish to be home.
My productivity has remained high. I take on additional duties happily. I can chat with friends online if lonely. For me there are no cons to working remote. If I did go into an office I would be the only person from my division there, my next closest team mate is a state away, which would make socializing even more awkward for me.
My goal is to never have to go into an office ever again.
I've been remote for almost 8 years now. I love it and dread ever having to go back into an office.
I did it for ten years, and then returned to the office. It's a difficult transition. It took almost a year to really get back into the routine.
But the routine was actually better for me. Though I hate commuting, having a regular sleep/work schedule, responsibilities, and stability seems to have made me a better human being. My health has improved markedly, and even though my cow-orkers can be annoying, getting out of my bubble each day exposes me to new things.
> But the routine was actually better for me. Though I hate commuting, having a regular sleep/work schedule, responsibilities, and stability seems to have made me a better human being.
I work remotely and have a regular sleep/work schedule and regular work responsibilities. If your prioritize these things, and choose the company you work with carefully, you can have a work/life balance while working from home.
Balance is the key. I worked in the office, then at home, back to the office and now I'm 100% from home. The first time I worked at home I worked WAY too much. Going back to the office was so nice. I hated the commute, but I loved leaving work at work. After going back and forth, this 2nd round of working from home is great. No commute and I rarely get sucked back into working hours that I normally wouldn't. It takes some discipline to keep a balance.
To each their own. I found that working remotely pigeonholes you into your role; its much harder to network in a remote org, to find other opportunities within the org when you're ready to explore a new role. My current org has offices around the world; I can work from any of them, or from home. I can apply for other internal roles, and keep my benefits and salary while changing up the work I'm working on.
Working from home exclusively does not appeal to me. I also don't want to have superficial conversations with coworkers in other parts of the world on a video chat client; that has no value for anyone. I would love to grab a pint with you though and chat about who you are as a person outside of work. Otherwise, you're just a resource I need to interact with to get my job done.
Luckily, the job market is large enough that everyone can have the sort of job they desire (fully remote, mostly remote, full time in office).
I agree with vinbreau. I've been 100% remote for about 10 years now and echo his comments.
> I also don't want to have superficial conversations with coworkers
I would argue this is a problem with the relationship between you and your coworkers and/or the size of your company and nothing to do with the means by which you communicate. Some of these people also may just not be your "kind" of person you like.
In addition to my remote work mates I have also found remote gaming buddies. Both workers and gamers alike I have found deep relationships with. I know all about their kids, pets, activities, deaths, illnesses, etc. Comparing these faceless friends to friends I regularly see in my area are the same. In some cases the faceless people are deeper because you can chat whenever. IRL friends you have to deal with families and work schedules and a month may go by before we can meetup to grab a drink or movie together, especially when they start having kids.
I would bet if you can't find much to talk about remotely you wouldn't find anything more to talk about in person besides the weather and how the coffee tastes today. Just because a person is next to me doesn't mean I like him or will have a deep relationship with him/her. I've sat in an office before, 5 years with a team. Some people just aren't compatible. When I left, I no longer communicated with them, the ones I did develop a relationship with I still talk to to this day.
> Just because a person is next to me doesn't mean I like him or will have a deep relationship with him/her.
This is absolutely true, of course.
What I would like to point out is that interaction in the physical space is higher resolution than what you tend to get in virtual environments. In my experience, when you make a remote friend, you have even better interactions when you're together physically.
It's sort of like sports - you may like watching a certain sport or you may not like it. But, regardless of how much you like it, you'll like it more if you're actually at the game. There's just something about being there in person that makes it more fun.
I get the idea you're trying to convey but for me personally it's the opposite. I don't care for sports, but I dislike bring at any game in person even more because the cult-like feeling of the audience is deeply terrifying to me. It's a fear of what this many people could do en masse if unhappy.
I don't find the last part to be true. When I worked fully remote, we would meet up a couple of times a year and go for dinner and beers and lunch together and had a blast. Video calls were mostly all-business though since it's just not a pleasant experience.
Now I work from home where my wife and toddler are. Being home to educate her is worth more than just about anything. I don't have to drive 2 hours every day just to be an ass in a seat. Two hours where all I do is sit in a car and wish to be home.
To be fair, an hour by car each way is on the long side of a commute, at least compared to the US average. (For some cities, it's probably pretty good.)
As someone who also recently moved to the Bay Area from the south, I actually feel like Atlanta traffic is much worse. Granted, maybe I'm not seeing the worst of the Bay Area since my commute is just along one section of 101, but going from Atlanta suburbs to downtown (or back) was an utter nightmare, even on the weekends.
It's possible to cycle 11 miles in about 35 minutes. Make the most of the good weather. You will be fitter, healthier, less stressed, less polluting, and after the initial outlay for a new bike and all the gear, save money on vehicle, insurance, and fuel.
I'm 5 days late, but thanks for the recommendation. While where I work is a really bike friendly area, where I live is not and there's only three viable routes, two of which are freeways while the third is a non-bike friendly expressway.
Any other route would add a ton of time. I don't plan on working (or living) there much longer though, so it's only a temporary annoyance.
What I don't like is the way people are conflating work and travel. Sometimes people tell me they go down the beach or a nice park to code etc, I just couldn't think of anything worse.
One thing I love about traveling is when I set aside time to "focus on traveling", do I really want to be traveling through some beautiful place while staring at my devices and responding to email? Nope.
I have worked full-time remote, from a well setup home office. That was fine.
Coding on the beach or in a park? This can't be for a very serious programming task. I've tried it a few times and the glare + lack of ergonomics makes me go to a cafe and then ultimately back to the hotel to bang out actual work lol
Aside from the usual "we promised the customer we can do X; whaddaya mean you need 8 months to make it happen!?" ... here's one of the anecdotes:
* * *
The company makes numerous products. Some people in one of our other locations made a new product, and it was being demonstrated at some kind of trade show. So Marketing has T-shirts made for the show, with designs that look like a Beetles album cover, and words to the effect of "Meet the Developers of new product".
Except, of the four or five faces on the shirt's design, only two belong to people who actually worked on that product. Another one or two are developers from a different team; and another one is one of the QAs on my team. This particular QA, I might add, has a ... let's say it's an unprofessional-looking face and leave it at that.
* * *
Conclusion: our Marketing department is stupid, therefore I'm not surprised that other Marketing people are stupid enough to buy into the glamour of digital nomadry.
But, it sounds like digital nomadry is a tool being misused like other tools in this Dilbert-esque environment you work in. How do I get a job in this marketing dept.? I have NO experience in marketing, but my common sense is good half the time. I'm sure I can make fewer blunders than the current team.
That's the problem, isn't it? With office colleagues, you don't have to go out of your way to find people. They're right there, they're obligated to be nice to you, and you're stuck with them for hours every day. That's just the basic recipe for building relationships
With nomad work, the entire impetus falls on you to find a community and build connections. Easy for extroverts perhaps but not so easy for the rest of us
this post makes me think you might never have had a chance to visit City, Country. Maybe because you were working towards building where you are.
When I was growing up I moved every year of my life because my single mother was always changing jobs, boyfriends, husbands, etc.. It sort of rubbed off on me and now I get depressed if I stay in the same place more than 6 months. I didn't become a remote worker to visit City, Country. I was forced to become a remote worker because of my lifestyle that I can't seem to escape. I know there has to be a lot of others like this
I had a similar disposition but my desires recently changed. My family moved to the US when I was ten and growing up I lacked a sense of permanence/place and carried the idea that freedom (not being tied down to a location, or a set of traditions) was paramount. I moved often, spent years working at a company aspiring to "belong anywhere" which culminated in me having the freedom to maintain the lifestyle more or less indefinitely. My plan was to continue traveling overland (with an expedition vehicle) for the foreseeable future.
Then a year ago, I got this desire to experience a place through all its seasons, really get to know a community, and be concerned with a longer time horizon. I bought a house (which I always viewed as an assault on my freedom) and some land in a 2000 person town. I'm volunteering for political campaigns and planning to become a volunteer fire fighter.
It's a simple lesson but desires change. It's great to have the ability/privilege to embrace those changes.
Same, single mother child. My mom moved a lot when we were young because she had to start from nothing and build a career on fast-forward when she end up with my brother and I. So she took every opportunity she could and we end up moving every 6 to 12 months.
Now as an adult, I grew up so accustomed to change that I feel lazy when I stay in a spot for too long. I think it's a a blessing and a curse at the same time. A blessing because "thriving in change" is a great quality to have. Seeking change also makes my life a bit difficult to reconcile with most other people.
As an adult, I took the whole "change" thing pretty far. Went full on digital nomad, moving somewhere new every 2 weeks... or more like every few days. Bought a sailboat and I'm now prepping it to be a work platform. Sailboat is supposed to help me deal with "a need a change of scenery" while providing me with a place that I can feel home and comfy. It's tiring to live in your luggages and having to pack all the time.
I'm a natural recluse who loves living alone and loves working remotely. I've always been this way. This article didn't resonate with me; I don't get lonely and generally don't desire many social connections or interactions.
My key issue when working from home is staying focused and avoiding distractions. Still haven't found a good solution (I only end up using website blockers a few times before my hedonistic side takes over and just stops using them).
I can be very productive and effective when I'm able to stay concentrated for extended periods of time, but it's tough. I disliked working in an open-ish office, but knowing people could see my screen often pressured me into being productive.
I get lonely, but I feel it more poignantly when I'm in an office and everyone is taking in groups, sharing personal details. I don't know how to get into such groups. I fail to resonate with what they discuss, and generally am faced with a demonstration that I am alone.
Put me remote and I can get by just fine with some casual jokes on slack. I can lurk in channels where issues that matter to me are discussed and tune out when it doesn't apply, and there is no anxiety because people dont know not care that I am "present".
Not saying my practice is healthy socializing, just saying that putting me in physical proximity of other people does nothing good for my loneliness.
I've definitely noticed basic stuff like sleep, diet, and exercise help to keep me focused. Exposure to sunlight helps, too. But there are still many days where I don't get much done even when I've got everything else right.
I have a similar situation to yourself. Honestly I have found that working environments become "soiled" for me over time. I try to constantly mix up where I am working in my place or get out of the house to a coffee shop to work if I am not focusing. Keeping s good rotation of these work spaces has been a huge boon. Often times I work from the couch in the living room, take a break, move to the kitchen, then end the work day in bed without the TV on. Eventually I will probably move back to working in my office but since the new WoW expansion has come out my office is no good for productivity.
Wife and I see similar things while working remotely. Some people have a hard time not referring to what we're doing as "vacation."
Even wife's boss of her formerly in-person, now remote job praised her for how much time she spends online/connected, even though she's just strictly keeping a normal work schedule. We both view our jobs as having the exact same responsibilities as before, just with a flexible location, but I guess some folks might have a hard time not inferring some slacking off or other drop in productivity.
I’m the same. I find office great for planning things out with others but when it’s time to focus and implement things, I find it easier at home. Everyone had to find their own sweet spot and hopefully their employer will allow them to do that.
I was distracted easily in an office, too, but it was different distractions (usually coworkers wanting to talk to me, or the whole room, about some issue that's not important to answer right away). At home, my issue is really self-discipline. I'm the cause of my own distractions when I'm working from home, and this can potentially lead to boundless distraction.
In theory, it's a lot easier for me to stay focused when I'm at home, and many days that is the case, but in practice my lack of discipline and procrastination become problems.
> My key issue when working from home is staying focused and avoiding distractions. Still haven't found a good solution (I only end up using website blockers a few times before my hedonistic side takes over and just stops using them).
> I can be very productive and effective when I'm able to stay concentrated for extended periods of time, but it's tough. I disliked working in an open-ish office, but knowing people could see my screen often pressured me into being productive.
- - -
As having been able to work a lot from home over the last few years, I recognize this too well.
What works for me is time boxing: Set the alarm on 25 minutes, and don't allow yourself to do anything than work towards the current task at hand before the alarm rings. After that, you're free to check email/social media etc, until you set the alarm for another 25 minutes.
Works wonders for me. Just have to remember to actually do this, since after some time I use to get over the problems and don't need the time boxing ... but then I need to remember to start using it again when starting to backslide.
shoot, I surf the internet less when I work from home. I do take more breaks to stretch, exercise, or walk around, but those don't distract my mind. In an office, I feel somewhat caged and constrained by the presence of others. I end up trying to get my nervous energy out by surfing and end up distracted.
Not to mention that I get a lot of good work done after the sun goes down, and it's a lot easier to do that when you're working from home and people aren't commenting on how they haven't seen you lately(which happens at my day job all the time unless I'm in a chair 9-5).
All I can say is I wish I could do the same. I feel caged in an office, too, and in theory I'm more productive at home. On my good days, I am definitely more productive at home than in an office, but I wish I had more of those good days. I'm just too distracted by the Internet.
My solution was to work fewer hours. I'm down to 4 per day, divided into separate slices. It's easy to hold focus for those individual time periods and the net result is as good or better as trying to focus for 8 hours.
I'm same as you, natural recluse who never feels lonely. I do get out and interact with people but have found that most are so overflowing with negative emotion that being alone is more enjoyable.
I agree, and as a person who used to work from home and is now going in again, it is hard to adjust and I find my self-questioning the merits of physical offices.
I think there is a big difference between working from home and spending lots of time alone vs being in a place where you don't have any friends physically around for 100s of miles. I tried that for the last 5 years, wouldn't recommend it.
Why is there so much pressure on Americans to leave their family's home as soon as possible? I lived with my parents and my two sisters in Mexico until I got married at 32 and I think that helped me avoid depression in my twenties. Had I've been alone in those years I think I would have killed myself.
And apart for having moral support it was financially sound. When I was doing well with my freelance gigs I would contribute to the household and everybody enjoyed the fruits of the excelente USD to MXN exchange ratio, when work dried up I knew I wouldn't starve.
There's always a character in US sitcoms that lives with their parents and is portrayed to be such a loser. I just don't get it.
I guess, what I say is: if you want to travel around the world do it. If you want to live alone or with annoying room mates do it. But if you're happy with your parents (and vice-versa) why does the culture wants force you to be miserable and alone?
Americans (myself included) typically have a strong individualist streak. If you don't have a "reason" to do so, such as taking care of them or not being employed, it's typically seen as laziness. Personally I couldn't wait to move out. After college I had a 6 month internship where I lived with them and spent my entire stipend on gas for the 45 minute commute, then moved out as soon as I had enough for the apartment deposit.
Other comments have mentioned culture, individualism, etc. The society as a whole expects you to portray freedom and success. Financial, responsibility, mobility, and we're pretty selfish even to our family. I'd say, yes living with your parents as an adult is a negative stereotype, there's a stigma to it deep enough that most people just WANT to leave the nest. They also want freedom from their parents/rules/etc so they really just build an urge to leave the home through their teen years. I personally feel like american teens have a ton of rules and limitations. Not sure how it compares to other cultures, but I feel it's getting worse in the US and fear is a big driver IMO.
Parents can be rather selfish too, most can't wait until their kids turn 18 and leave the house. The want to live alone too. We like our personal space. It's common complaint for us Americans when non-USer's stand too close to us or otherwise invade our space. This is a common issue we encounter when standing in line at a store and the other patrons get too close to us. It makes us very uncomfortable and irritated. (This is a generalization of course, but I've had this conversation with dozens of people... it's a thing).
>Parents can be rather selfish too, most can't wait until their kids turn 18 and leave the house. The want to live alone too.
This is the worst aspect of it. The hypocrisy! When I was young and naive, I believed parents loved to have the kids around. Oh boy. Don't they right? The only problem is that they want us still to be kids, and won't leave the household to you and let you live a full adult life there. If you are going to live with them, they want you to depend on them, and they want you to let them be the one who runs the house. All the sob stories you hear, when you are growing up, about kids leaving their parents won't tell you that side of the story.
So if you are a kid in the same situation, and have philosophical/ideological difference about how to life a human adult life, DO NOT PLAN ON living with your parents if objectively they don't need it. Don't do it becuase of some romantic notion of the "right thing" that the mainstream narrative has fed you. *ITS FUCKING BULLSHIT!"...
i think this is about individualism/nuclear family vs more traditional family model.
individual success and personal independence is valued in (modern?) us culture, not contribution to broader family.
if you are contributing to the family income, your family is being needy, if you are living at home to save money, you are unable to do it on your own, etc etc. true pragmatism is sacrificed in the name of the all-powerful super-individual
plus even if you are not ready to begin a family for many years, you should be out 'living the life' and having disposable partners, showing off your prowess by having some fancy apartment, etc.
^ and queue the people who will criticize me for making life about starting a family, only belying my point...
What's the size of your house? I found it pretty hard to have a girlfriend or friends over in a small place. You have your own schedule and need for intimacy as an adult, it's hard when parents are always lurking behind the next wall.
It's the competitive/capitalism culture - we go to the best college we can, and then to pay that off we have to get the best job we, the CEOs have to compete too so wages are pressed down and layoffs happen, and this means the labor has to job hop to make ends meet, and new job generally means relocation again ... in other words total destruction of communities. The laws of power aren't optional and neither is competition.
I don't think the title ("What Most Remote Companies Don’t Tell You About Remote Work") makes sense for this article.
He mentions co-founding a company and never had a "real" job but his title is all about being a remote worker for a company.
There's a HUGE difference between being a remote worker FOR a company, and a remote worker for YOUR OWN company.
In the employee / company case, you have someone telling you what to do work on day to day and probably report to them on a regular basis for progress. You have no chance to spiral out of control because if you produce low quality or no work over a few days or a week you'll get reminded by your employer that they are paying you to do work.
In the entrepreneur case, you have no one for that and then it's very easy to get into trouble.
I've been working remotely for ~20 years (for my own freelance / teaching business) and I find it super simple to find motivation to work on client work because someone is requesting I do something for them, and they pay me in return (similar to a "real" job).
But for the teaching (creating and selling video courses) side of things, it's much harder to grind through everything because there's no real deadlines (other than being irrelevant if you take too long, which is a serious threat but you typically don't think of that during your day to day). I imagine someone working on a startup as a solopreneur could have the same issues, because it's the same thing.
I got excited to learn about some novel aspect of working from home that I, as a remote worker for 2+ years now, might be able to incorporate into my life.
I cannot overemphasize how little I identify with anything written in this article. This guy's life experience is completely non-intersecting with my own.
It's possible what keeps me from feeling isolated is the fact that I've grown up on the (slightly more modern) Internet, and am able to draw energy from being in a chatroom/conference call with my coworkers in the same way I am when there in person. So many afternoons/nights/weekends forging friendships in the dark recesses of IRC/B.net/AIM/Ventrilo/Discord made me comfortable enough with the mediums that I know how to manage remote relationships as well as I manage in-person ones.
I have a wife and 3 sons and am working remote now for over a decade. If you have family around its super not depressing. Before that being single, I had my dog or went out to the beach and sat under an umbrella and programmed wirelessly or visited a coffee shop. Being in sunny SoCal helps too. If you don't have friends or don't go out and stay by yourself all the time, the vast majority of us would feel depressed. Being remote doesn't mean being alone, it just might be correlated to people who like to be alone more and thus depression ensues for most of us in that scenario as a "feature" of evolution. Some tips to combat depression in general are to work out in the morning, go for a run, listen to fun music that makes you feel energized, try to work outside or around people when you can, use sunlight as your friend meaning respect that you evolved for waking hours and your circadian rhythm sleep cycle is regular, and you have a nice social network where you also physically are in the same room with people etc. Basic stuff kind of like food... in that eating healthy over junk makes you feel better, so is the social and routines that make us feel more healthy, you needs it even if you would rather be a recluse at times and not shower for a week living in your basement with the blinds closed.
Same here, wife and 4 kids. Definitely not depressing. People like to associate big targets with their mental health, but honestly remote work doesn't make you depressed, your lifestyle can, and remote work can emphasize that. If you get your "fill" of social interaction via other means, there are enormous advantages as well.
Yep, that's kind of the point. Working remote doesn't cause depression, it enables it, particularly when your lifestyle makes depression a high probability. If you're a type B "loner" that doesn't really have friends/family, I would argue that you probably shouldn't work remote if you also happen to be susceptible to depression.
Sure, I imagine if someone isn't already lonely, being put into such circumstances could make them lonely.
But loneliness exists in conventional workplaces too! I work in an open office every day, but I'm still extremely depressed, isolated, and alone.
Culturally, I am very different from my coworkers. I do not fit into their social events cleanly, and do not socialize with them. There are many possible boundaries to creating human connections in modern society. Individualism in America has guaranteed that.
And honestly, I'd much rather work remotely and be lonely than spend all day in an office being lonely. At least at home I can focus and be more productive.
I am surrounded by people in an open plan office but I do not work with any of them - all of my team are remote and in different timezones by 5 or 8 hours so there is often only 1 working hour overlap. I can literally go an entire working day where all I physically say is "thanks" to someone holding a door open for me.
I'd much rather work from home than be surrounded by what are essentially strangers. Working on globally-distributed teams sucks big time. No chat or video calling can make up for that. Sometimes I am not even sure if anyone is even noticing/using the things I am working on - it's like I am just doing "busy work" and often wonder if anyone would realise if I just stopped working at all. It is a deeply depressing and lonely experience.
Luckily for me I am happily married and get a lot of energy from spending time with my wife in the mornings and evenings. I dont know what I'd do without that.
Yeah, loneliness is my personal struggle. I've made steps recently to combat it, I just need to be more aggressive about it.
I have been going to meetups occasionally! There is an LGBT women's group I go to near my office sometimes. Still, as the article mentions, making friends is a constant battle! Got to keep working on it.
"I see that there are many young people here; as an old man, a little advice... Life can set us a lot of snares, a lot of bumps, we can fail a thousand times, in life, in love, in the social struggle, but if we search for it we'll have the strength to get up again and start over. The most beautiful thing about the day is that it dawns. There is always a dawn after the night has passed. Don't forget it, kids. The only losers are the ones who stop fighting."
I did remote work for many years starting back in 2003.
The worst time, when I almost lost my mind, was when I was living in a tiny apartment, having my work desk inside my bedroom. Although I had my mother and my sister living with me, I was supporting all of us and that pressure was strong, so we didn't interact much.
I'd never leave the apartment. I'd wake up and jump on my work chair and start coding. I'd get stuck in my bedroom sometimes working 16 hours in single days.
At some point I didn't know if I was working from home or living at work. It was terrible. I wasn't aware of the potential problems at the time, so I let it happen to myself. I had to eventually rent an office, otherwise I'd lose my mind for real.
I love remote work and I love times of solitude, however you need a break from time to time. Even if you are anti-social, you need to at least see and be near people. Co-working spaces, coffee-shops, etc. they all work great for me.
I had a similar issue when I was in a studio apartment. My desk was right next to my living space and bed. I'll never do that again. Now I have the luxury of having an additional bedroom that I converted into my office and so when I'm done with work, I close the door.
I've worked completely remote for the last 5 years. Before doing so, I read articles and sought advice. Most of the advice was the same — "try to get out of the house for a few days per week", "be sure your home office has a door", etc.
This type of advice is shallow, obvious, and unhelpful. The only thing that has worked for me is having a disciplined routine that I follow.
- Bed by 10pm
- Up by 5:30am
- Coffee made by 5:45am
- Protein smoothie for breakfast with coffee by 6:00am
- Yoga/dynamic stretching for 30 minutes
- Read through and reply to all emails and missed slack messages from the previous 12 hours
- Then work starts for me at 8am
- Pause work for 2-3 hours for rigorous exercise for 2 hours (BJJ)
- Dinner by 8pm
- Work for 2 hours
- Bed by 10pm
This is my specific routine. Your routine will be different, but the point is you need one, and it must be disciplined.
Going to the gym, coffee shops, meetups, social events, etc. will bring you friends and other acquaintances. It's the routine of your daily activity that will bring you mental health.
Totally agree with this, it does not have to be 8 hr exact. If you are working on something love then it is completely fine. We have all put in work in after hours and weekends. Plus it looks like he has very healthy routine of waking up early and going to the gym/yoga etc. I say in long run this is healthy.
Remote work is dramatically different for different people. For me, it means I'm home with my family, and in 6+ years of doing it I've not once had the urge to go into an office for any reason, much less socialization.
Yep. Me, too. I love working remotely, and will hopefully never have to commute ever again. If I need a break, I step outside and garden, walk around the neighborhood, play with my son, etc. If I need social stimulation, I head into a coworking space or coffee shop, or just hop on Zoom with a coworker.
I do miss pranks and foosball, though. But those aren't a big enough upside to justify all of the downsides of going in to an office.
Yes! Honestly, my commute (probably 20 mins average) was laughable compared to anyone who works in the city. But even after good work days, getting stuck in traffic with other tired people who were driving poorly would absolutely kill my mood for the evening. I could leave work feeling energized and be absolutely dead by the time I got home.
Not to mention that an extra 40 mins every day is huge for anyone who struggles to find time to exercise. For me that means I'm getting a 5-mile run in for "free" everyday and not feeling stressed out about it.
almost 7 years for me, and i still love it. i don't miss office stuff at all.
it kind of helps that my wife is a housewife, so we can have meals together, we can talk to each other when we are feeling lonely and etc. also i try to chit-chat with coworkers on our "random" slack room just like i would do at an office.
I definitely think people that already have an existing social network and/or a family with kids will do better with remote work.
But I'm single, have worked remotely for most of my 15+ year career, and live alone and I really have no desire to commute in a car every morning and be distracted by co-workers. I also like that I can setup my office environment exactly as I want, or go to a co-working space when I want, or a coffee shop, or a friends house.
This is why I reject this premise that all remote workers are sipping drinks on the beach. Have people ever tried to use a laptop in the sun? It's awful :)
I've worked remotely for almost 7 years, for a few companies. Loneliness is a real thing, especially for people who are more outgoing/social.
Here's what I've found works for me:
1. work at a coworking space/coffee shop. Be around people. Get out of the house some.
2. Watercooler conversations don't happen automatically. I try to schedule a coffee meeting 1x/week with someone.
3. If you manage a team, you need to understand what's going on with each person. For the past 3 years I've been building a tool for distributed teams (https://www.fridayfeedback.com) that people have referred to as "therapy for remote teams". It's shocking what you can discover if you ask people, "what's going on" on a regular basis.
4. Quarterly or semi-annual meetups can help significantly. I want to get to know the people I work with. It's super important to be reminded that these are REAL people, not avatars on a screen.
One of my fiancee's professors at Kellogg was all about performing a nightly reflection on his day, and the example questionnaire on your website reminds me substantially of the ideas he was preaching. I think his name was Harry Kraemer, you might find some inspiration in the stuff he's talking about.
Sounds like he may not be suited for remote work.
I've been working remotely full-time for 10+ years now. I'm convinced some personalities just don't do well working remotely. That's not to say they're "bad", just different and would thrive in an office setting. Whereas I seem to thrive working remotely.
I think most people use "remote work" for the most extreme version where there is no other typical jobsite. The worker works from home, or wherever they choose, and has no regular work-imposed constraints such as onsite meetings with clients. This often applies to worker bee or creative tasks like programming or long-form writing. With teleworking infrastructure, it can also apply to more boiler-room sorts of work which have frequent interaction but no fixed location.
People in sales or consulting who nearly always visit other sites used to be called "road warriors" which is definitely not implied by "remote work" in my mind. On the other hand, "work out of a home office" can mean anything. It can be someone with an office who stays home a few days a week or month, or even just works extra hours in early morning or late evening. It can be someone who does visits client sites and has client meetings in public, but keeps their files and records at home because they don't need a storefront. This could include road warriors who lack an assigned space in their nominal place of employment.
Encouraging people to use sick days for mental health when they need them.
Can't agree more, because mental health is as important as physical health. And,
Finding work-life balance isn’t about prioritizing your
mental wellbeing at the expense of your work. It’s
acknowledging that, in the long-term, all areas of your
life are better off when you put your mental health first.
agreed, but i'd say that mental health IS physical health. if you have depression, you are more likely to get all kinds of cardiovascular diseases, and your likelihood of death -- from any cause -- is vastly increased. it isn't acceptable to suck it up and suffer through mental health episodes like it's seasonal allergies or something. these mental health problems are left unaddressed due to the need to do work -- or more likely, BECAUSE of work -- and that causes people to die younger and live in more misery.
The importance of finding social hobbies outside of work cannot be stressed enough.
However, if you are not in the lucky situation of having a partner for whom you feel responsible (e.g. by regularly doing things together, stopping work together, or even just having a conversation over dinner), it becomes way too easy to get sucked into a spiral of not going out and seeing people, and not even feeling like you want to.
I have had times when I was working alone for extended periods of time, at which I felt lucky to even be able to talk to a cashier while shopping for food. That alone however didn't automatically motivate me to go out and seek friends or activities. It's way too easy to forget taking care of your mental health in such a state.
Ultimately, public health systems and employment laws should take care of people by providing counseling and paid mental health days.
Dunno, if you have a life outside work, the remote work is absolutely amazing. If you are glued 12-16h to a computer, then it is likely horrible. By remote work you already saved 1-4h of commuting, you don't have to be in an office with people you don't like, you can work in comfortable clothes, can take packages you ordered right at home instead of picking them up from post office, you can be productive even when your office is going through virus epidemics etc. Often you can set cool working hours like 6am-2pm and do whatever you like afterwards... If your income is sufficient, you can even travel the world, working one month from one cool place, the next month from another one, and surprisingly getting a huge productivity boost just from changing the scenery (if your job is in any way creative).
Very interesting post, as it helps me see things from the perspective of someone at a different life stage from me. I’ve been leading a distributed (my preferred term) team for 2 years now. I’ve got 4 other humans + associated animals in my house, a dedicated outbuilding as an office, and the option to visit a an office if I want to. What’s more, I came to working remote after doing 50-75% work travel for a couple years. Being able to see my kids and wife everyday is absolutely amazing and makes any other annoyance worth it.
But I’ve got 20 people on my team. Some of them are new grads, some are recently divorced, etc... This article helps me see areas we as a team can do better serving them I wouldn’t have seen myself. Thanks to the author and OP.
This is a really confused and flimsy piece of writing. The author starts by recounting a life-changing after which they decided to completely uproot and move to another country where they found themselves lonely and depressed.
The author then uses this anecdote to assert that "working remotely" is fraught with peril.
They say nothing about why they chose to move to Taiwan. Was it a place they had always wanted to see? Or was it just an attempt to try to escape in the wake of a breakup? The anecdote also makes no note of how or even if being a "remote worker" factored into their unhappy experience.
Further moving and traveling are not the same thing at all. I sounds like the author moved:
>"I lived in Taiwan for about a year before I returned to Europe"
The article seems to willfully conflate moving to another country, working remotely and working while traveling. These are all distinctly different things they people might choose for different reasons.
And some of the assertions are just downright silly such as:
>"Loneliness isn’t something that many traveling remote workers write about. You won’t see it in their Instagram stories."
It's also not something that sedentary office workers write about either. Having a daily routine and a familiar office space does not prevent loneliness. And most social media to has a positivity bias, nobody seems to curate anything other than a "fabulous" online persona for themselves. You would have to be a fool to let yourself be "informed" by social media.
Great article and good discussion going on in the comments. I personally am going through very interesting transition. My company has decided to let people work remote or from the office so I have 2 days work from office (T,W) and 3 days work from home (M,Th,F) schedule. Here is my observation for last 2 years (working in bay area)
Days I am working from home
- I have better energy in the morning and evening due to no commute.
- I work way more and focus on personal diet and health way less because of no set schedule.
Days I go to office
- I feel more energetic during morning and afternoon. This is mainly due to socializing with colleagues and working with humans face to face.
- I get out more, go for walk, have lunch with people outside.
- Evenings are dreadful with 1/2 hr commute.
- No energy at night.
My personality is such that I like to be around people and like to get out. Remote work sort of stops me from doing that however if I go to the office everyday then commute kills me.
Pretty one-sided article. Sure, working from home is lonely if you need social interaction and don't automatically get it from work. If you have a family, active social life, or simply don't need social interaction to be happy, it's not a problem.
But what if you work in a company that's: tiny, not very social, or you just don't feel a sense of connection to anyone? My current workplace hits all 3 of these, and I feel lonelier when I'm in the office than the couple times I've gotten to spend a full week working remotely. I think the real issue is to investigate whether you have a healthy social life, or whether you're lonely and using workplace socialization as a crutch or replacement for real personal bonds and activities
I’ve never worked from a real office or even had a “real” job.
This doesn't outright invalidate the main thrust of the piece, but it does perhaps explain the rose colored glasses he appears to have for the benefits of a normal job.
I was a homemaker for many years. Then I had a corporate job. I've done remote freelance work since.
Jobs can be crazy making, soul sucking and put you in awful situations you have no control over. People put up with it because they need a paycheck.
My mom was a homemaker for a long time and also did freelance work from home for years before going to work. I'm perhaps more prepared than most to live this way because I saw it growing up.
I'm all for finding ways to improve the status quo. That can be done without injecting so much judgy drama into the problem space.
He begins with talking about leaving a girlfriend and moving elsewhere and how miserable he was. He basically blames his misery on doing remote work.
I lived in the same house from age 3 until I was an adult. I got married, he joined the army and we went to outer first duty station. I was miserable. It was horrible. It took me years to stop blaming Texas and realize I would have been miserable anywhere.
It was a huge shock to my life to move someplace new. I had no coping skills at all for such a scenario.
You can't blame remote work for the misery of combining multiple major shocks like dumping a girlfriend and leaving town. That's not realistic. You can have that same scenario without remote work, such as by joining the military.
I do occasionally have to stop and make a conscious effort to count my blessings. Working the way I do allowed me to repeatedly move pretty much at will and that has benefited me tremendously. It helped me solve problems that would have been much more nightmarish if I needed to job hunt to move.
I wish him well in meeting his goals of improving remote work for his people. But I respectfully suggest he first disentangle some things from it in his mind that he is conflating as due to working remotely.
This is very interesting. A couple of years ago I was pretty sure that working from home was the ideal for me, but that was after being exposed to a series of either small, cramped offices with a bunch of people or large open offices with lots of people. What I have come to realize that I really want though, is what I had at the turn of the century; my own private office with a door to close. That provides the best balance for programmers IMHO. If you need to focus - close the door. If you need to coöperate - either go to a coworker's office or set up a meeting. If you just need to feel less isolated - leave the door open.
So basically to do remote work correctly you need 40 days of completely offline from work vacations per year, plus taking sick leave when you have anxiety or depression symptoms. It's also nice if you rent an office and if you make yourself space to have a meaningful social life.
I mean, those are great tips, but any kind of remote or non remote or whatever profesional career or relation more likely will need or greatly benefit from all that!
Not remote but I started freelancing a few years ago out of necessity. At the time I had to put in every hour of the day to make ends meet and I was getting burned out quickly. There were no weekends nor a week work, everything blended in and I greatly missed the physical cutoff between work and play. I was also struggling with occasional bouts of depression. It didn't help that my foreign wife was dealing with depression which dragged me into it even further. It was my primary reason for moving to her native country to be closer to her family.
Fast forward a year and a half and I still work on my own but now as a consultant. I work at most 3-4 hours per week of actual focused work. The rest of the time I work on side projects that never seem to come to fruition but that's another story. Mental health wise I no longer feel depressed but that may have something to do with having a newborn son who keeps me plenty smiling and a reason to live. I still go to bed late (writing this at 2:15am in my bed) and I think this alone is having a terrible effect on my health but I feel powerless to stop it. These days I am more isolated than ever with zero real life friends and very few old friends I still talk to online. I don't feel the need for human connection as I know spend most of my spare time with my son but that could just be something I tell myself. Truthfully, I want to make friends I can meet with to hang out but it has become somewhat an impossibility with my current work situation and language barrier - not to mention the social barriers put up by people of this society. I am not sure where I am going with this or what the trick is to working remotely... I guess if I think there is one thing that helps, it's that working less is more beneficial than busting your ass day in day out.
I've worked remotely on and off for the last 8 years or so, and currently work for an all-remote company. I am at least somewhat extroverted (ambivert fits well) and it's totally doable, as long as you have the right company culture and take the effort to have other professional social opportunities like meetups or coffees. In my case, being remote has meant that I probably work more than I did in an in-office job, but have more flexibility to do things like pick up kid from camp. One of our developers has a dog and I often see him (via our team's Marco Polo video messages) walking around in the parkland near his house. We have "core hours" where generally everyone is online. I'd say that enjoying remote work and keeping it viable depends on overcommunicating to some degree and to knowing your own boundaries, but I feel much more connected to my current remote team than I did with folks at my last in-person job.
We are the generation who will be responsible for introducing this new paradigm. We are the generation with all the tools and platforms. Let’s try to avoid adding unneeded layers of skepticism just because people can’t or didn’t think it through.
I suggest folks to try it with a critical mindset in evaluating the productivity and social interaction. With a mature sense of responsibility. If you miss meetings or don’t deliver, you’re making it harder for others who know how and love to do it. Be mindful, either if you’re a worker or a company.
I have been working remotely for few months every year. My director was skeptical initially. I told him that if I didn’t act responsibly, that would have been my last time. That happened almost 10 years ago. It’s really on us, folks.
For people that feel alienated, well, social (and social network) skills can be improved and put us on the stage of this kaleidoscopic beautiful world. : )
> I lived in Taiwan for about a year before I returned to Europe.
The whole Taiwan part is not really related to the issue of remote work. Remote work or not, moving to another country and then returning to home country after 1 year simply means you made a rush decision to relocate or you are bad at coping with a new environment.
I've worked remotely for several years, but not alone. From time to time before that I worked alone (i.e. one-person projects) but not remotely. I think it's the combination of the two that's far more toxic than either alone. If you have either collaborators or people nearby, it's fairly easy to get your recommended daily allowance (whatever that is) of human interaction. If you don't have either, and particularly if your outside-of-work social sphere is also small, things can get weird fast. The sort of people who might once have been lighthouse keepers or custodians of some remote outpost might still be OK with that, but they're pretty rare. For anyone else, it's an almost sure route to depression or worse.
I worked in a office setting for four years doing development work (finance). I found it very difficult to make friends and very isolating. Then I ended up getting laid off and living with roommates and found it much easier to make friends and less lonely.
I'm digital nomading with my wife, and we both agree that this is the happiest point in either of our lives.
No doubt it requires the people nomading to be very compatible with each other and both individually compatible with the lifestyle. I could see it being difficult without the company, unless you just settle in some place long enough to make friends, which is really really more like moving than nomading.
We have one suitcase each, with more clothes than we need, and one decent laptop, camera, and phone per person.
We definitely want to head home to visit family and friends about twice a year, evenly spaced.
But from my samples size of 1 (or, 2), I recommend it very highly.
Not sure if this is more of an American thing or common elsewhere, but in US we tend to tie a lot of our social connections and self-worth with the job.
If these were not the case, loneliness and other social pressures would be less of a thing - if your normal circle of communication, social connections and support systems are not tied to work, then not physically being next to your coworkers wouldn’t make that same impact.
That’s not to say that face-to-face cannot at times be more productive (though it could also be less productive too), but the psychological impacts would simply not exists as you wouldn’t be isolated in the first place.
Me, for background: "Non-traditional" worker since ~2005, including stints as employee, as freelancer, as business owner. Some in a co-working space, some in home office, some as road warrior.
I don't really recognize the issues the author is describing. Obviously exercise, activities apart from work, and being cognizant of one's mental / physical / emotional needs are all good things. But, I can't say I've ever felt loneliness or any kind of existential dread over any of it. If it weren't for my kids (school, activities) we would go nomad for big chunks of the year too.
Working remotely is fine as long as you are someone who has hobbies and interests.
It's usually an insult to say "take a hike," but in the remote working world, this activity is super important. Walk to the store, walk outside, join a hiking group, walk to the bar and grab a beer.
Or whatever your interest is, turn off the computer and do that during the evening, and try to get fresh air.
I spent a lot of time travelling / being a nomad. The article touches on a brutal reality of the experience, but most of us who's done this really don't talk about it. We just shrug and say we know how it goes.
I haven't worked remotely but I have travelled solo a fair amount and his points about loneliness resonated with me. However, I don't think everyone has to stay traveling if they are a remote worker. As he mentions it takes time to build community and relationships, but for me that is a reason to go remote. I want to live stably in another city where I feel I will integrate better with the people then the city my office is currently located. I don't want to switch apartments every month or live out of a backpack.
Been remote for 6 years now and I’ve had a blast. I wouldn’t say I was Nomad though, I prefer to pick a city to call home for at least a couple of years (I prefer european cities). It’s still easy to cruise a round a bit as well but I definitely like having a home with a solid group of friends etc. You do have to be proactive with the social life, but I prefer picking my friends by shared hobbies/interests than work. Remote gives you a lot of options, if you know what you like then it’s easy to design a life you’ll love.
i have lived completely remotely for the last 2 years – hotels, different countries etc., have not spend over 60 days in a single location at a time.
i think it is amazing once you know how to do certain things well:
- have a very well-adapted set of routines.
- know how to maintain deep relationships everywhere
- appreciate different places for different things
- are busy
i use silicon valley for interactions with smart people and fundraising, russia for hiring and great social life, switzerland for deep work, asia for seeing very forward-thinking economic markets etc.
if you have good practices around arranging time with people in each location, mix in a bit of acid/MDMA/meditation – you can have it all – deep relationships, understanding of many markets/cultures, independence from annoying governments and their taxes, and the best of each location.
i would also argue there is a lot of value in training yourself to be independent of locations in the modern world – it feels like it increases your overall flexibility and ability to adapt. which is clearly worth a lot.
I enjoy running my business (postjobfree.com) from my home in Florida.
It also allows me to have "non-standard day" (about 30 hours, that is about 6 hours longer than regular ~24 hours day that most people have). I am not sure if such non-standard day is good or bad for me, but I like it so far.
To stay mentally sane, I make sure that:
1) I exercise every day (usually, run for ~3 miles).
2) Talk with people -- both business and personal - (usually on Skype).
There was an article about loneliness a few days ago, it’s not related to remote work, you can be lonely and working at an office and living in a city for years, I think it depends on the persons social skills, programmers are introverted and they will feel lonely if they don’t work on their relationships.
I worked remotely for 7 years, sitting at home (alone), and it’s great, I interact as much with other people as in an office, just over slack/zoom, I do not feel alone and save allot of time not commuting, time I spend with family and friends.
I sometimes wonder why don't SV companies hire more in Canada and/or Europe just by offering slightly higher than average salaries.
Their runway will be a bit longer. They will easily higher more people especially if they let people know they offer higher than average salaries, it will attract the best engineers in the area, and I don't see how the product will be any worse.
I’ve been working remotely for almost 5 years. One thing I would recommend remote teams is visiting teammates cities (if possible and if traveling is your thing). Is a nice way to see the world and for team bonding at the same time.
The guy went for one year abroad, not sure what exactly he was expecting? It takes time to build contacts in a new place. Most digital nomads don't move from one place to another all the time, they got 2 or 3 bases where they stay most of the time and where they build their social circle.
People who want to go to Thailand are ignorant — it’s a red flag you can use to spot naive people. Thailand sucks. It’s filled with crime and people there are very petty. Usually it takes Americans several years of living there to realize this. Anyway, I also think it’s dumb when people attribute their happiness to one thing or another. A featured tweet said that “crafting things with my hands is key to my happiness.” That’s so sad to read because as long as you are searching for specific remedies to unhappiness, and therefore as long as you are attributing progress to one arbitrary construct like “crafting” with your “hands,” you are unhappy. People who say they found happiness in X are always actually still in the middle of massive unhappiness. Their special activity almost always lapses after a while.
Excuse me? What is so uncivil about my comment? I would point out the flaws of my own country just as quickly as I would those of Thailand. The culture of Thailand is a burden to its people, as well as its economic and education situation. To brush aside my comment is to condemn the good people of Thailand because without broaching the elephant in the room, nothing will change. Please take your fake social justice elsewhere, especially far away from your moderation duties.
> Thailand sucks. It’s filled with crime and people there are very petty. Usually it takes Americans several years of living there to realize this.
That's such a sweeping, verging on racist, terrible generalisation of Thai citizens. I have one friend who has lived in Thailand since 2002 and another who lived there up until ~2009 before his company shipped him off to the US.
Both have nothing but good things to say about their living experience there and the people they met. Sure you're going to encounter cultural differences (for god's sake don't say anything bad about the monarchy), but that's up to you to integrate. And by all accounts, in Thailand, it isn't that hard to make these adjustments compared to say certain countries in the middle east.
Sorry you were not able to build meaningful relationships in Taiwan.
Probably that is not the easiest place, I get it. But maybe you should work a bit more on yourself instead of writing throwing so much shit to the people who earned their high degree of freedom with a lot of effort. Also, you are discouraging people that are trying to find the courage to exit their comfort zone and reach their objective.
I mean, I agree with a kernel of what you're saying, particularly about encouraging people to leave their comfort zones. And frankly I think Taiwan is actually a pretty friendly place, and I am genuinely happy that aspects of the overall Chinese civilization were able to separate from what happened on the mainland. But the author is clearly not shitting on anyone by describing his experience- he was a young man who learned some important lessons about his personal needs, which didn't line up with his initial expectations. Where he learned that lesson is really orthogonal to the point.
Actually this is not true, I find this article insightful and he does have very valid points. At the end it is up to the individual to decide if remote life is for him or not. No need to bash the author for putting this blog out there