Digital technology trends are merging and changing society. This digital transformation is creating a new social class structure built around personal sovereignty.
Trends like widely available mobile internet, social media, on-demand product/service platforms, and decentralized financial infrastructure. And when combined, these trends provide civilization with the ability to earn income from anywhere in the world. Remote work that empowers people to reorient their lifestyle preferences.
Ultimately, these changes have led to the creation of a new social class. The Sovereign Individual class.
The Sovereign Individual is a byproduct of the information age. These people leverage digital technology as a way to maximize the value they can receive from the world. That means acquiring wealth, relocating where they live, and making decisions optimized for their unique lifestyles.
The Sovereign Individual concept especially resonates with younger generations that intuitively know the world is rapidly changing in profound ways. But they don’t understand the consequences of these changes & they’re looking for guidance on to prepare for what comes next.
But with all that said – a lot of people find themselves wondering whether or not the Sovereign Individual lifestyle is right for them.
The truth is, this The Sovereign individual isn’t a one size fits all lifestyle. It exists on an emerging class spectrum. There are degrees to personal sovereignty. And there are a variety of emerging archetypes of Sovereign Individual that leverage some but not all digital technologies to secure personal freedom.
Below I’ll explain what the different pathways and profiles of modern self sovereignty are.
What Does Personal Sovereignty Mean?
Personal sovereignty means many things to many people. For our purposes, the broad definition of personal sovereignty is the ability to make choices that impact the direction of our lives without interference from outside influences. It’s a freedom to choose.
The actions a person will take to secure personal sovereignty depends on a variety of factors. And of course, freedom of choice means different things to different people.
What that means – the essence of why it’s important – is that there are a variety of different ways a person can pursue self sovereignty. There is no one size fits all archetype for the sovereign individual. There are multiple paths a person can take to becoming a sovereign individual.
Think of the range of choices around personal freedom as the Sovereign Individual ecosystem. This ecosystem has common choices Sovereign Individuals make and a set of unique choices that create different archetype identities.
By organizing Sovereign Individuals by freedom preferences and their associated archetype – it becomes easier for a person to identify where they might fit within the ecosystem. And ultimately, it empowers people to take more precise actions towards personal sovereignty in a way that doesn’t conflict with their lifestyle preferences.
This all sounds great in theory but what does it mean for me in practice.
The Sovereign Individual Ecosystem
There are many types of people in our world today whose lifestyles increasingly fall under the Sovereign Individual ecosystem. People that are pursuing lifestyles that adopt many digital trends that support personal sovereignty.
But these groups of people are frequently very different from each other.
How they make decisions and approach life can vary widely. Their skills, education, experiences, and goals are different. What these individuals and their subsets desire for where they live and the types of government policies they will tolerate vary as well.
These subgroups of people are so different that when you take a high level view, you realize that The Sovereign Individual is a spectrum of life choices. And ultimately, these groups of people make up a wide ranging ecosystem that has interesting overlaps and divergences.
The end result being that you cannot assume the term Sovereign Individual means the same thing to all people that self identify as one. And that has interesting consequences.
The Common Ecosystem Theme: Leveraging the Digital Economy
Regardless of the type of Sovereign Individual within this emerging ecosystem, the overarching theme of this group of people is that they leverage the digital economy.
The digital economy and the digital transformation are the defining changes reshaping the world. Transforming society from late industrial & early information age to what comes next.
I think of the digital economy a little more broadly than most. I see it as all the commerce that originates from or on the internet (not different). This includes supporting hardware technology like computers and all the businesses that support those systems like semiconductor manufacturing (slightly different).
It includes software based businesses and the commerce that takes place directly within these digital environments. And the important aspect of the transformation is that the digital economy is becoming more interconnected with the rest of the traditional global economy.
And as it becomes interconnected, it creates more opportunities and drives more societal change more than ever.
There are many consequences to this integration. Like the ability to earn income remotely or with a shielded identity. But the most relevant to the Sovereign Individual is the resilience it provides against cancel culture and hostile government or other organizations.
But how does the digital transformation support Sovereign Individual lifestyles?
What Digital Trends Support Sovereign Individual Lifestyles?
As I’ve said, self sovereignty is the ability to own and control the decisions you make in life regardless of outside influences. And in the Digital Age, self sovereignty exists on a spectrum that is influenced by several factors.
The factors include:
- The variety & global distribution of your assets – Real estate, bonds, stocks, and a variety of emerging digital assets
- Whether or not you earn remote incomes – do you rely on one job to survive or do you have many? Can you work from anywhere in the world or do you need to go into an office?
- The local government policies where you live – do you live somewhere that has less regulation? Or More?
- Your willingness to move abroad – are you willing to pick up and leave if local situation impacts your freedom?
- Do you sell time or invest it – do you work for someone else and get paid by the hour or are you paid for what you produce with equity?
- Your exposure to cryptoassets – do you embrace the emerging decentralized digital financial infrastructure?
All these major trends greatly impact the average persons ability to control their own agency like never before.
Remote Work: The Location Dependent vs Location Independent
Remote work is one of the most profound trends of the Digital age. It provides a new form of flexibility and an ability to reclaim many decisions that impact a persons use of their time. Society is forming new classes of people around the realities of remote work.
The Location Dependent – People that are required to go into an office. Because of the nature of their work (plumbers, data center technicians, power plant operators). Or they are employed by organizations with policies from the late industrial age.
Hybrid Workstyles – A compromise of the late industrial age policies with the digital age realities. Instead of going into the office everyday, organizations create a compromise with their employees. They come in sometimes but not all the time. Working remotely when they aren’t required to come in.
Digital Citizens – They might be location dependent for their primary income. But there is a group of people embracing digital income as a “side hustle”. Straddling the location dependent and location independent classes. The creator class fits well here. People realizing that the digital economy permits them to create and monetize digital assets for alternative sources of income.
Remote Workers and the Organization Man – These people are reliant on traditional institutions for a salary but are permitted a modern workstyle. Ie: they can work remotely but only work for one company.
Location Independent – This group embraces the full range of benefits created by remote work. They shift from more domestic lifestyles to global lifestyles. And further down the range of their lifestyle choices they sometimes apply for dual citizenships and international residency permits. More than all other types of remote workers, these location independent people experiment with asynchronous workstyles. This changes the types of companies they work for because it impacts how a company operates.
Pseudonyms & The Digital Citizen
The Pseudonym Economy is the overarching path for all subsets of people to become Sovereign Individuals. Regardless of whether they work remotely or not. Or whether they work for one traditional organization or many.
Since the origins of the internet and the digital economy, pseudonymity has played an important role in the development of these ecosystems. Simply put – you can create a new name and represent yourself via a digital avatar to shield your identity online.
As the digital economy increasingly interacts with the broader global economy, this has some interesting impacts. Mainly that anonymity clashes with many rules and norms in the mainstream economy.
By interacting with the digital economy anonymously, it’s now possible to acquire assets and shield them from governments and employment organizations. It functions as a means to create multiple incomes regardless of employment situation, and without fear of consequences.
As digital & physical economies become more interconnected, more people have the ability to hide their identities with a pseudonyms while earning income on the side. It provides a vehicle for location dependent workers to earn location independent income and empowers the tech enabled exit over the long term.
This means that although we think of location dependent workers as less resilient – this is no longer necessarily true. All because of the ability to earn income via pseudo anonymous profiles.
The New Class Archetypes Forming From These Trends
Here is a further breakdown of how the digital economy will creates new classes of people.
Pseudonymous Location Dependent – works a traditional job but uses an avatar to create secondary income streams with anonymity.
Remote Salary Workers – Less stable from an income perspective but more free from an ability to manage time and location preferences.
Digital Nomads – Freelance or salaried remote workers that embrace global travel and living. They typically have caught the “travel bug” and don’t stay in any one location for too long. Embracing freedom of movement and asynchronous workstyles. They are the beginning of a global citizenry.
Snowbird Digital Nomad – Digital Nomads that eventually settle down like a snowbird, winter getaway style. Having 2 to 3 destinations that become recurring homesteads. Staying for a few months at a time and moving to their other homes.
Tropical MBA – The owner operator version of the digital nomad. They have more money and more independence. A mix bag of snowbirds and digital nomads. Also part of the emerging global citizenry.
Solo Capitalist – Fully embracing the digital economy. They work for themselves to create businesses, multiple income streams, and ultimately invest in a variety of global and digital assets. They can be both global travelers or stationary in one country. But they gain freedom by diversifying income and assets across a frontier of opportunities.
Nomad Capitalist – The wealthy individuals that are able to maximize the benefits of government loop holes and can afford to travel between multiple locations consistently to maximize the value of different regions. The 1% of the digital age.
I’ve spent the past year and a half exploring the digital transformation and sharing insights with weekly newsletter subscribers. What I’ve learned is that a growing number of people gravitate towards the Sovereign Individual because they intuitively know the world is changing.
And that because of this rapid change – they need to take action.
Most people are looking for resources to educate themselves on what personal sovereignty is and how to use digital technologies to acquire it. They have a desire to learn about the Sovereign Individual ecosystem, the core tenants of the digital transformation today, and how they impact tomorrow.
But most importantly, they want to know how the events of today impact their personal sovereignty. They want a guide for what to do and how to think as a Sovereign Individual would. They want to know what the key details are that empower them to dominate this transitory age. ‘
Through this search, they are hoping to find the right mix of choices that creates a digital lifestyle that fits their preferences. And it’s becoming clear that becoming a Sovereign Individual is not a one size fits all approach.
There are many emerging subsets each with distinct tradeoffs. And this knowledge empowers more people to leverage the digital transformation to pursue a life with more personal sovereignty.
I’m tracking a new narrative that makes sense of society’s shift to the Digital Age. The goal: documenting how to becoming a Sovereign Individual. Giving you the facts and tools to successfully navigate digital life. I cover topics you can’t fully appreciate because you’re in the thick of it. Don’t miss out, subscribe to the weekly newsletter.
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Photo by Andrew Stutesman on Unsplash
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