The virtual hustle: “Securing the bag” in ones and zeros

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Why digital workspaces will become the new normal


By Stefan Muriuki

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 5 of VARSITY News.


Terence McKenna said that “technology is the skin of our species”. Technology has also been described as the Seventh Kingdom of Life, dubbed, the Technium. In fact, the very technology we create plays a role in forging who we are and who we become through code spaces, described by James Bridle in his book New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future.


Indubitably, technology has altered the landscape of industry and labour, especially in how people make money using technology—a sort of digitally-enabled ‘hustle’. In the present state of the world, the virtual hustle has become a key component in how people “secure the bag” without necessarily eking out a living in laborious drudgery. The virtual hustle has become a way towards freedom, purpose, and off grid aspirations. It is the very cornerstone of digital nomadism where work becomes a desirable luxury and not a begrudging necessity that imprisons one in the proverbial ‘rat race’.


The pandemic has underpinned the importance of technology in ensuring economic and social continuity. The digital shift, which has been the staple of many conversations has been actualised by a force majeure, no longer under strategic consideration, but a matter of immediate implementation.


There has never been a time when the virtual hustle is more crucial than now when the International Labour Organisation announced an increase in estimated full-time job losses to 10.5% of the world’s workforce to 305 million since the inception of 2020.


Disheartenedly, the decline of working hours is expected to put the livelihoods of 1.6 billion informal workers-half of the working population-in danger. The young people coming out of universities will not fare well in the next five years as the world attempts to recover from the effects of the pandemic. It is incumbent upon them, and the workers working from home or those who have been furloughed that they need to adapt to the demands and dynamics of a virtual hustle.


Kevin Kelly, co-founder at WIRED magazine put it elegantly when he noted in his book In New Rules for the New Economy that in the new economic order, success permeates predominantly from the comprehension of networks, and networks possess their own rules. The virtual hustle and the potentiality of remote working amidst the pandemic and post-pandemic will make up the bulk of digital social networks; the gig network will grow into a substantial part of the global economy, more than ever, and this trend is irreversible. The virtual hustle is more than computation, it is about communication, which sustains all networks.




This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.


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