You don’t have to. But you want to.
The internet has generated many unforeseen byproducts. I know I don’t need to direct you to Twitter. The new realities I’d like to address here deal with livelihood, and the unique opportunities currently afforded to human beings to maintain one. Who knew we’d be able to earn a living unboxing packages or journaling our thoughts into an online platform with a $5 per month membership? Essentially anyone with a computer and some time on their hands can really get cracking. And while as a freelance writer I am overjoyed at the opportunities the internet has opened up for me to work on my own terms, what it’s also created is a unique ability for me to cease existing. I do have some concerns.
Freelancers don’t need to leave the house—ever. Not with all this Amazon and Fresh Direct lying around. It is possible, if one were so motivated, to stay at home permanently like the guy with padded furniture in Amélie. It sounds nice, when you think about it, never having to deal with…you know, humans again. I have Netflix, I have my books, the cat is in good health, I’m fine.
I don’t need your coworking spaces, do you hear me? You’re asking me to pay to work, I’m too sharp for you. I’m already paying for an internet service provider, electricity, and the minimalist kitchen table that doubles as a desk you’ll not take one more penny from my pocket! And anyway, I always hated working among others, and now I don’t have to. Voluntarily returning to that setting and paying for it is pure comedy.
Sometimes I look out my window during the day, at all those people out there, not at home. How sad. I’m in fuzzy socks for crying out loud who wouldn’t want this life? And that’s on a clear day, mind you. The pity I feel for people in cold rainstorms could make a marble statue weep.
I love being here, working here. With a good Wifi connection and a full french press I can invoice impressively by the end of the week. This is working, my solitary life, my stillness. There’s a huge lack of stress involved in never having to put on BB cream or shoes.
But it’s wrong. It’s possible, but it’s wrong. And as a person who loves nothing more than her independence and a lack of subway tomfoolery in her life it’s hard for me to say this, because I get it—I get that we just want to stay home. What I’d like to stress to you, is that we can’t.
At first it was a shoulder cramp, a twinge of sciatica…then I looked at the Amazon boxes in my “to be recycled” pile and wondered at the last time I’d made a purchase outside the home. Part of me was proud, but part of me also foresaw doom.
It’s breeding a hypersensitivity to human contact, physical malfunction, and a distancing from reality, this freelance life. I know that sounds dramatic, but I jump when Trader Joe’s cashiers ask me questions and I always have a very incorrect grasp of the temperature outside. This isn’t the way we’re meant to live, I can feel it. I’m self-employed, and I want to urge those like me to cross a threshold every now and again.
I know it’s nice inside, but this is important. Our own penchant for comfy pants is coming to get us. It’s coming to take us away. If we stop leaving the house, we will stop leaving the house. Do you hear me? Don’t let the internet let us disappear. I know we have the choice to recede into the quiet, like a low tide on a still morning, but I must caution you against it.
We have to maintain a connection to them, the others. It’s too easy to loose ourselves beneath a fluffy duvet otherwise. We have to fold ourselves back into society like so many chocolate chips in batter. Otherwise we’re condemning ourselves to aches in odd places and a fraction of the communication skills we deserve. Don’t deny yourself the full spectrum of the human experience, no matter how tempting. Freelance Community: We don’t have to, but we have to choose to. Get out there.