12/29/17

Interdependence


Note: This post was written in May of 2015 while I was living in Japan.

I'm on an elevated train leaving Tokyo. Surrounding me on all sides are young men and women, staring straight down, with one hand holding onto the safety circles that hang from the ceiling. Why, I wonder? Perhaps some kind of shame system developed during the rice paper wall period? Keep quiet because everyone can hear everything? No, they're just staring at their screens. Cell phones, tablets and handheld gaming devices occupy the palms of almost everyone. They glance up only to make sure they haven't missed their stop. The rest of the train's occupants are older, and they're asleep in their seats. A sign of the times, I suppose. And yet here I stand, phone and face in the same position as everyone else, getting things done with what little down time I have today. It's essential, this connectedness. One can shun the convenience of modern technology, run to their 'cabin in the woods' and get all Thoreau on us. But let's be honest, in order to succeed in society these days, one must swallow the proverbial pill. And that's alright.

You see, I've been “on the road” for more than a year now - travelling in my converted cargo van up and down the west coast of the United States, then travelling into Baja aboard my dual-sport motorcycle for more than a month, and now I’m traversing Asia, riding motorcycles, surfing and exploring for the next few months. This could not happen, however, without the availability of Internet. I am considered a journalist by most conventional standards. I participate, document and debate a range of subjects, centering primarily around surfing and adventure motorcycling. I am also a "social media manager," a job title new to the working world, and one that wouldn't exist if it weren't for the Internet. It is a job title that, unlike all of my previous employments within corporate America, allows me to wander aimlessly around the world, working whenever and wherever the Internet is available.

I peer over the shoulder of the person pressed against me - a young woman of ripe working age. She's typing feverishly in Facebook Messenger. Then she adds an image on Instagram and reads what I assume to be a blog post about some kind of beauty product, given the pictures. I, on the other hand, am hammering out a story I've been commissioned to write about the importance of the Internet, and how it allows me to travel freely and yet still maintain an income level at or above where I'd be if I were stuck Stateside. An hour later, I exit the train with what feels like eight hundred other people, take the escalator up, and make my way back to my friend's house in Fussa where I'll be staying for the next few months. Parked outside his front door is the motorcycle I've rented. Inside is the surfboard I've borrowed. And upstairs is my laptop, which, like a pair of pistols strapped to the side of some 20th century gunfighter, pays my bills. Without it, I'd be riding desks not dual-sports for the foreseeable future. I think Thoreau would understand.

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