It’s the dream of the digital nomad. Work where you want, roll a global identity, connect with others from around the world.
The advent of co-working and digital nomadism created a narrative that we can all be ‘entrepreneurs’ simply because we can wake up when we want, work on our projects anywhere, and proclaim freedom!
Something is missing though from this lifestyle. Something very important.
Community and the #Joiedevivre
“joie de vivre is is a French phrase often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit … joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do …” Joie de vivre blog
While the digital nomadic lifestyle enables a certain level of freedom, it also has its drawbacks. It’s predicated on freelance digital contract work that mainly takes place through a screen in emotional solitude, even when others are physically present in the same space. While some freelancers may make good, steady income, there are many who don’t, making it nearly impossible to place roots, find love, and form families. The perpetual journey, physically, leads to the inability to experience true joie de vivre, which emerges from community structures, financial security, and a deep connection to a local environment.
We are wired to be social beings; we all have a desire for community, human touch, and collective purpose. Pre-industrial revolution, this was represented by villages and the maker lifestyle where the collective purpose was the mere survival of the village. The industrial revolution over the last century has created a push into cities, which consequently unwound the social structure of village lifestyle and a transition from collective purpose to individual ambition. To experience joie de vivre in its fullest form, we must become …
#Coliving is a reflection of the desire for a real lifestyle in community. Common purpose, a social structure, a like-minded group of individuals, all living in the same space and helping one another to achieve certain ambitions.
We see various forms of co-living communities emerging. Bigger projects like The Collective appealing to a more affluent section of Millennials living in cities like London:
“Fed up with sharing an apartment with roommates, Anso Kristiansen typed six words into Google: “alternative ways of living in London.” The search brought her to the world’s largest experiment in co-living—The Collective, a 546-unit building in west London.
Miss Kristiansen, 29, a dancer and dance instructor who was born in South Korea and raised in Denmark, pays £845 a month, or about $950, for her bedroom and has access to a wide array of social activities—she can watch a film, take a yoga lesson on the roof terrace and attend mixers in the double-height lobby.” London’s ‘Generation Rent’ Tries Co-Living
SwissEscape is a more free-form and organic version of co-living for a small community of co-livers in a village in the Swiss Alps:
“Imagine living with people that inspire you everyday. Waking up to the panoramic view of snowy mountains. Let nature drive your focus. Great things happen by getting together in a place where you love to work.” Swiss Escape
Beyond simply wanting to do things together, why oh why is our generation in need of a co-living revolution?
Here’s a blunt assessment of the state affairs from someone within our generation:
“Let’s talk about loneliness — word on the street is that it’s an epidemic, hurting young people (18-34s) the most. A 2013 survey by ComRes found that 52% of Londoners felt lonely, making it the most lonely place in the UK. Other research has suggested that London is the most lonely city in Europe, too. I’m ready to believe it. Part of the blame may lie with social media, making us more connected but replacing all-important face-to-face contact.” The Loneliness Epidemic – Grace Waters
We could talk about the same trend in all the major cities globally. In a world where we ‘manage’ our friends and family on our mobile devices and have access to any type of content we want 24/7, how could we possibly be lonely?
Because it’s taboo for someone young and ‘on the beat’ to be lonely. It’s not cool when you can Netflix your way through a solitary night, find a date on Tinder, or mindlessly scroll through content on Facebook. But loneliness is an epidemic of this generation and the remedy is human touch and the creation of new communities.
If cities are these large, impersonal structures that isolate so many people and stress us out to the point where we have no time for one another, then Villes are the opposite.
The co-living movement – while likely to be littered with corporate actors trying to capitalize on the trend – will ultimately catalyze the creation of new villages in and around cities. Five or ten years from now we will use our devices simply to connect into these communities, but the great majority of communication and collaboration will be physical. The next generation won’t be remembered as digital nomads, but digital dreamers who came together in the real world to make it happen.