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The beauty of change

There are no doubt some incredibly good things coming. I just watched Xprize and the incredible things people have already achieved in the past, and was blown away by the generosity of the sponsors. Technology is now not just polluting the planet anymore like it used to, but it is helping to clean it up, diseases are tackled that previously presented a death sentence, and private corporations step in to provide food, water, and education to people across the globe, where governments have not succeeded.

But that is not all. It also provides a whole new aspect to global mobility.

It used to be, and still is, a must for a lot of us who really wanted to grow and stretch ourselves, to move to the places in the world where the opportunities to do so present themselves. This is oftentimes in one of the big cities across the globe, and a lot of us were forced not only to move away from our families and friends to places where we needed to learn another language first, but we were also forced to move to places where we were not wanted by the locals - because that is where the job was.

In some places it is easy to adapt to the culture, blend in, and be accepted by the locals, and most cities in the US where I have lived fall into that category - I felt at home in Iowa and was made part of the gang before I could properly speak English, and in Miami I was told by the locals that they considered me one of them after about 3 weeks.

Fitting in was easy. Being different was exciting and interesting, and learning about others was an adventure.

In other places, being accepted is damn near impossible. No matter what you do, your motives will always be questioned, and people will delight to find fault with you. You may think you have friends for a while, but may find that they were really just polite, or they "schmoozed to lose", and the second there is some tension between you and any one of the locals, they all close ranks against you, no matter what happened. It can be extremely frustrating, and feel extremely unfair and lonely, but there is nothing you can do about it, because, well, the job is here.

If you have your family with you, you may have some support in them, and if you have a local community of your own people nearby, this may also help, but sometimes you have neither. So, you only seem to have the choice to stay, keep the job, grow, contribute to society at the level you are capable of, and suffer at the same time, or to move back, stop growing, stop contributing, become a burden, and die - neither of which is a particularly tempting alternative. Adding to that bullying, discrimination at work, and, in some areas, depending on the color of your skin, the very real threat of physical violence, growing, and contributing to the world to the best of one's ability becomes a pretty dangerous and unhappy adventure.

The good news is, that all of that is about to change, and has already changed to some degree.

The internet, global connectivity, VR and augmented reality, and the easy-to-use meeting facilities that are now available to everyone with a computer, as well as, in future, avatars that can be used by a person half way across the globe, means that more and more people can work and contribute to companies half way across the globe right from where they are, in the language they choose to use. Easy accessible transportation means you can fly in, or get a high speed train quickly, and get out again back home, if you need to be there in person for a few days. Soon, this may not even leave a carbon footprint anymore. In future, we may not even have to learn a different language anymore, as translation systems are getting smarter. People can stay with their families and friends and their social support system, and be global citizens at the same time.

Will this mean some of the experience is lost? Sure it does. If you learn a language, you also learn something about the culture. There are ideas in every language that do not exist in another culture, and learning the language means you need to learn these ideas, which expands your horizon. Travelling to other countries and physically being there will give you experiences that you will never make when you stay at home, although in future, VR may give you at least some of it. Even the trouble you experience may make you grow in ways that you would never have grown if you had stayed home. But maybe there are also experiences that you could have done without, things you really didn't need to know about a culture. A certain amount of ignorance can be bliss. Maybe you would have liked to believe the positive image you got from the media before you moved there and saw reality. Once you make the same experience again and again, it will change you, and it will change your perception of people.

In future, that does not need to happen. Having the choice certainly gives you power. If you know that you have a choice, that, if you move back home to your friends and family, or to the place where you always wanted to live, or you choose to have a base in both places, your work life does not have to be over, you don't have to live with the despair anymore of knowing that, no matter what you choose, you will suffer. This changes your perspective all by itself. Suddenly, you are not stuck anymore. Instead, knowing that you will still be able to thrive in your chosen profession from where ever you choose to live, gives you a viable choice for the future. It may take some time to set it up, but it is an option.

We aren't quite there yet, at least not all of us - some businesses are already purely internet-based.

But we are getting there. And that alone makes the future exciting!

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