Becoming nomads

Three things driving change in the way we live: Environmental collapse, migration and loneliness

Three challenges we solve in ways that can make us more nomadic

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

I wonder a lot about the nomadic in my work around hiking. We’ve been nomads in almost all of human history, and we have only recently settled down. But I see signs that more of us might soon become nomads again.

And I wonder if it is our new digital tools, apps and solutions that makes this transition more likely.

Today we face at least three huge connected drivers of change using digital tools more and more: It is environmental degradation, migration and loneliness

I’ve drawn them up in my logbook storyline grid here:

Three reasons we are moving closer to a nomadic lifestyle: Environmental collapse, migration and loneliness.

Environmental degradation

We are putting a greater and greater demands on our planet and wearing it down in ways nobody believed possible just a few years ago. Most visible is land degradation and biodiversity collapse, but now we also see the effect of rising global temperatures, we see rising sea levels, more wild fires, droughts, stronger storms and the spread of new species to vulnerable places. A growing effect of this are more conflicts and also a growing migration, people are moving more and more, leaving everything but their phones behind.

Drawing of a man holding a phone saying "it is this way" while followed by a group. with flooding and fires in the back. black and white illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt
Can our phones guide us to a better place. Drawn story ref: Di01852 by Frits Ahlefeldt


When people start to move, not all move, often the old wants to stay, where they have their roots. And taking the risk of starting somewhere else, is most attractive to the ones that have the least connection to their place. But when they leave they promise to keep in contact through digital technology. Using phones and social media to stay close.

Drawing of an old woman watching as a younger woman with child leaves. Waving her phone. Black and white illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt
“We will facetime you” – Migration is stretching the distance between us. Can the digital replace the connection? Drawn story ref: Di01852 by Frits Ahlefeldt


As we spend more and more time looking at our phones, our connection to the places we live and the people around us wear thin. It creates a rootlessness and a loneliness that we go online on our phones to heal.

Drawing of a girl with backpack sitting with her phone on the word "loneliness" Black and white illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt
“As long as I have my phone I’m not lonely” Drawn story ref: Di01852 by Frits Ahlefeldt

The three challenges connected

Only twenty years ago this digital reality didn’t exist, but now it is where we spend most of our time, and this all new digital technology might both be seen as a cause, a curse and a cure.

The way we use our phones and their technology has created a revolutionary change in the way we tell stories, experience relationships and where, how and to who and what we connect.

And it makes me wonder if we are on the way of becoming nomads again, drifting more and more into a digital reality that detach first our minds, then our bodies from our challenged places and lives?

But maybe this change can help us find new ways to face environmental degradation, migration and loneliness?

We don’t know yet.

Stopping by stream to think about it all

See my whole storyline grid here

Keywords: logbook, storyline grid, storylinegrid, sketchbook, diary, notes

Log, text and illustrations by Frits Ahlefeldt.

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