I live in one of the world’s most “it” places for digital nomad’s- Canggu (pronounced “chan” “gu”…or as the Australians say ,“chaingu”).
It’s a neighborhood on Bali’s west coast, sandwiched in between the boutiques of Seminyak to the south and the ever-waning rice fields to the north. The nomads love it because of the year-around warm weather, surfing, good/cheap food, and laid-back lifestyle.
If you like to code alone (or do affiliate marketing) and/or grow out your man-bun and/or work hard at looking grungy, Canggu is definitely the place for you.
I don’t do any of those things, but don’t really mind people who do. The problem I have is that some digital nomads aren’t really nomads. Rather, they are digital trespassers.
You know the type. A dour 20-something guy sitting alone in the corner of a café, oversized headphones pumping out EDM numbing his senses to the world around. His MacBook, covered with ironic stickers, perched on a stand behind his wireless mouse & keyboard. His hardly touched 3-hour old latte pushed off to the side of the table, justifying his monopolization of the table for four.
He originally hails from Europe or America or Australia. It doesn’t really matter because Canggu is his fifth temporary home this year. Nobody will talk to him and he won’t speak to anyone except for an unintelligible mumble of “I’m fine” to the waitress who is sheepishly trying to get this guy to leave.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all for exploring the world and taking advantage of location arbitrage to enrich one’s life and pocketbook. I think it is great to be adventurous and endeavor to live The 4-hour Work Week lifestyle.
I just don’t like it when these digital trespassers trade in their cubicle for the table next to me. If you want to see the world, then by all means, see the world. But this requires interacting with those around you. It means taking off your headphones and closing your laptop when in public. It means learning something about the local culture by chatting with the locals…and maybe even making a friend or two. Otherwise, what’s the point of traveling in the first place?
If I can be so bold as to make a suggestion to the laptop-carrying denizens of the cafe: how about taking the time to enjoy some conversation with your tableside neighbor and to venture away from the Internet during the day before your visa expires and you move off to another café in another corner of the globe? At night, you can still make the pilgrimage to Dojo or Hubud to hammer out code to your heart’s content.
If nothing else, it would free up a table or two at my neighborhood café, which would make my wife, daughter, and me quite happy. Makasi!