Today I’m really appreciating the freedom that modern technology and my freelance work allows me.
By the time you read this I’ll be on the far side of England, having crossed the country to help out my dad on short notice. It’s not a crisis moment, but my presence will be helpful for him and reassuring for me. It’s on short notice, but I don’t even have to drop everything to go, because so much of my life exists either through the internet or through a small number of electronic devices I can easily carry myself across the country on a day’s notice.
Being self-employed makes a huge difference to this. I’ve previously worked in a job where I had to fight to get time off for a funeral. My last employer was far more flexible, but I still would have had to run around making arrangements and getting permission before I left. And the time would have come out of my holidays, rather than just being time I spent working on a train or in someone else’s living room.
But this isn’t just about how lovely it is to be a freelancer. It’s about the age we live in. Changes in technology and society are letting us live our lives in more dynamic, flexible ways. We can cross entire countries in a few hours. We can stay in contact with work, family and friends through pocket-sized devices. We can carry half our lives with us in a backpack. It frees us up to take more care of ourselves and the people around us. Big social institutions like how we’re employed can be slow to change, and so just as living in a first world city lets me make the most of technology’s potential for entertainment, so too working freelance through the internet lets me make the most of this flexibility. But over time we’ll adapt to the possibilities on offer.
I’m extremely privileged to live on the edge of social and technological change. But that change is spreading, and it makes me optimistic for the future.
Now excuse me, I have to go pack. Don’t want to forget my books if I’m going to spend hours on a train.
Oh, and for those of you in the UK reading this on Thursday, go out and vote! I know it’s ‘only’ local and European elections, but this stuff matters. This is how we build that better future, by voting for people who will help it happen.