Is it possible to live an almost completely digital life?
And is it a worthwhile goal to have?
Well, I won’t aim to answer the second question. That’s up to you.
But in regard to the first question, I think the answer is: yes.
I think it’s very possible to construct your life in a way that almost completely eliminates physical possessions. They can be digitized. Physical experiences work the same way.
Indeed, it’s possible to live a life that’s almost completely digital in nature.
Although eliminating most physical possessions is required to live a mostly digital life, a mostly digital life isn’t a necessary component of a very flexible and free life.
I’ve had a flexible and free life for a number of years now. It’s been totally blissful.
Regarding what’s now mostly a digital life, it’s been a bit of an evolution that took a flexible and free life to the next level. It’s been a digital transformation for me. A slow process of digitization has led me here.
My life is now mostly digital. My minimalist FIRE lifestyle has partially facilitated this digital transformation, which I’m actually grateful for.
Ahead Of The Curve
This is an idea that’s ahead of its time, much in the same way that my decision to allow my driver’s license to expire is perhaps ahead of its time.
There’s very likely a future – maybe really only a few years out – in which a driver’s license is outdated, due to a combination of automated transportation and greater public transit infrastructure no longer requiring such a license. That future is coming.
Maybe I’m extreme.
Or maybe I’m just ahead of the curve, like how I developed my own basic income that totally bypasses all the hemming and hawing from governments as they debate and marginally test UBI in anticipation of a day when most jobs are automated.
I was also a bit ahead of the curve when I first started blogging way back in 2011, with Dividend Mantra. Blogging was somewhat strange and new back then. It’s now yesterday’s news. But I felt compelled to write about this incredibly exciting idea of achieving FIRE at a young age.
Indeed, FIRE itself is probably only a bit ahead of its time, something to be seen as not only not extreme in the not-too-distant future, but something that will likely be an outdated concept when society at large no longer has jobs in the first place (jobs that must be thoughtfully and creatively avoided by achieving FIRE) due to mass automation.
I see a future in which lifestyles are designed and aligned with passion and purposes right from the outset. This more or less defeats the main purpose of FIRE, rendering it moot.
FIRE is a bit radical today. But it’s born partially out of a desire to escape unsatisfactory, exhausting, and inflexible jobs. And I think a “job” is a very contemporary thing. Jobs haven’t even existed for that long. And it looks like they might not be around for too much longer.
FIRE, as we think of it today, will one day be mundane. It’ll be a relic of a bygone era.
A Digital Society
Well, something else that I think will one day be more of a mundane idea is to live a life that’s largely digital.
This life has long been coming.
Don’t believe me?
Just take a look around.
People are practically attached to their electronic devices. People already spend a significant portion of their time and days in the digital space – social media, content production and consumption, entertainment, communication, etc.
I believe merging with technology itself is the obvious next step. Virtual and augmented reality will aid this transition.
Then will come digital attachments and enhancements, allowing for humans to become bigger, better, and stronger, potentially even overcoming many diseases and injuries that physically and/or mentally limit people.
I think it’s very possible that people will one day – a day not far off from today – be able to almost completely live inside of virtual worlds, much in the same way that some gamers do so right now.
Other than certain physical functions (like eating, cleaning, reproduction, and waste), there’s not much that would even be necessary in the physical realm at that point, and even those physical functions could be solved in a way (via technology) that wouldn’t require disconnection.
I don’t think it’s unrealistic to expect a near-term future in which we’re able to model, build, and live in our own digital worlds. We’ll be able to make the rules as we go and do as we please.
We’ll be gods. No pain, no judgment, no suffering, no limits. You could be omnipotent and omnipresent. You could visit far-off places instantly, or create your own places. Be the hero of your own story.
It might even be possible one day to completely upload your consciousness, providing immortality.
That may sound futuristic, very sci-fi, and utopian (or dystopian, depending on your perspective), but I’m simply extrapolating out our current development as a species. In fact, if Elon Musk (vis-à-vis Nick Bostrom) is to be believed, all of this has already happened and we’re all living inside of a giant simulation.
Regardless of how far this goes, I’m showing you that where I’m at really isn’t that extreme at all.
My Digital Life
So where am I?
And I must admit, it feels pretty good. It’s taking the idea of #minimalism to a whole new level.
There’s very little I own in the physical realm. Very little to slow me down, weigh on me, and own me. Because when you own things, they actually own you. That’s the truth, folks.
Everything I brought with me to Thailand fits inside of two small bags.
And I could probably cut that in half, if I needed to. It’s actually quite likely that I’ll be doing just that over the course of time. If I were to suddenly die, anyone cleaning out my apartment would think I had no money at all. There’s no wealth in my physical life.
Most everything I own, use, and enjoy exists in digital form.
My wealth and assets are completely digital.
Other than a little bit of money I keep on hand, my wealth exists digitally.
My cash is a number on a screen.
And my stock portfolio ends up being boiled down into stock tickers and amounts I can go look at when I log into my brokerage account.
That’s really it. It’s not like I’m Scrooge McDuck jumping into a pile of gold coins.
Even my business is completely digital.
My blog isn’t a place you can physically visit. It’s not something you can hold in your hands.
My writing doesn’t have physical weight.
And my coaching is not a physical product. Moreover, my coaching is done via Skype with clients all over the world, which means I’m not even physically present when I’m coaching. It’s all done digitally.
Other than the paperback version of my recent best-selling book, my business has no physical presence at all.
I own no car, no house, no accouterments of the 21st century.
And the only physical assets I actually value at all are those that allow me to access my digital life: my dated (and barely working) iPhone 4S and my old laptop.
That’s because these physical assets allow me the connection I need to not only my digital assets, but also my digital life as a whole: my entertainment, my income, my communication, my research, my education, my ability to write (which is a major part of my identity), and my access to the sum of humanity’s knowledge.
My avatar is digital. And he is as much me as I am me.
That avatar is, in my view, arguably more representative of who I am than the me that exists in the physical space. I spend just as much, if not more, time with that avatar, curating my digital life, as I do with the version of myself that physically exists.
It’s kind of crazy when you really take the time to think about it and what it means to live and exist. It blows your mind. It can be a bit much, which is probably why Musk has banned certain existential conversations from the hot tub.
The Physical Realm
Where I live, in the physical space, is something I view as more of an abstract construct than anything else.
It’s ephemeral. Just a place where I’m at in the moment. It’s short-term physical occupation that’s designed to be most advantageous to me.
And since most of my life is digital, which can be accessed anywhere, the physical world becomes less valuable and instrumental to me as the days pass.
That’s an interesting thing for me to say, since I actually see myself as an urbanist, walking enthusiast, urban planning connoisseur, architecture admirer, and public transportation advocate. I enjoy the study of cities.
Beyond that, relationships are extremely important to me.
And I love food as much as the next guy.
I still enjoy much of the physical: food, intimacy, exercise, etc.
So how do I reconcile that with my digital life and still find some value in the physical realm?
When your life becomes almost completely digital, that’s precisely when you can actually immerse yourself in and enjoy the physical world that much more openly, truthfully, and clearly. Once I’ve been able to see it this way, it’s quite easy to reconcile.
Otherwise, you’re just using the physical space to commute through, work through, and eat through. There’s nothing special about it. It’s an obstacle to clear. Something temporal to temporarily trudge through.
I mean, there’s nothing enjoyable or special about the physical realm while you’re commuting in your car, or while you’re shuffling paperwork at a desk (or whatever it is you might be doing).
Visiting a park, paying attention to architecture, or people watching is great. But most people don’t actually use the physical realm in this manner because they’re too busy. It’s instead just a place where they collect the paycheck, wolf down some food, shuffle the kids off to school, etc.
In this sense, living a life that’s mostly digital actually enhances the physical realm, as you’re more appreciative of it and likely more free to enjoy it (in terms of time, finances, awareness, openness, etc.).
I’m not writing this piece to convince anyone to live a more digital life. That doesn’t behoove me.
Instead, I’m only sharing with you what has turned out to be a natural evolution in my own growth as a human being, where my life has merged to a great degree with technology. There’s an avatar of myself that’s probably more representative of who I am – based on how I allocate my resources – than the me that physically exists.
I see this as an amazing and wonderful development.
And it appears that I won’t be alone for long. Human beings are slowly merging with technology. Smartphones are already practically considered an appendage. And there’s a future out there in which life might be able to fully be digitized. A digital revolution is coming, whether everyone is ready or not.
This excites me. I embrace change. But I can also understand that this is a scary idea for many people.
Nonetheless, I thought this would be interesting thought process and growth story to share with everyone as post-FIRE life continues to surprise, delight, and change me.
I asked a question at the outset of this article regarding whether or not this is all worthwhile. Well, I believe it’s an eventuality, so it kind of answers itself.
Regardless, I do believe it’s worthwhile to live a life that’s at least slightly more digital than it might be now. Less consumption and less stuff owning you is a good thing. And the more free you are, which arguably goes hand-in-hand with living a more digital life, the more you’ll actually enjoy and truly experience the physical space.
What do you think? Do you think it’s possible to live almost completely digitally? Do you see the digital transformation that’s coming? What do you think about it?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: blackzheep at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
P.S. If you’re interested in becoming financially free, which could allow you to minimize, downsize, and even become more digital across your life, check out some awesome resources that I personally used to become free at 33!