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The Rise of the Digital Bromad

What happens when you mix toxic masculinity with the digital nomad lifestyle? You get the digital bromad.

young men wearing backpacks walking across a bridge
Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe

I'm a freelance writer who is interested in mindfulness, mental health and the evolving concept of masculinity.

What is a Digital Bromad?

A digital bromad refers to someone who lives the digital nomad lifestyle (working remotely and traveling) while also exemplifying ‘bro culture’. The writer Adam Rowe, over at Tech.co, has written about this particular type of digital nomad. He interviewed various remote workers who complained about ‘toxic masculinity’ in the digital nomad scene, particularly in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Digital bromad is a term that digital nomads often use to refer to male digital nomads who they find insufferable. It’s not a label you really want to have attached to you. Another term of disparagement in the digital nomad lexicon is ‘digital gonad’, which refers to digital nomads (again, seemingly concentrated in Chiang Mai) who have big egos, untrustworthy or naïve business tactics, and are more interested in boosting their digital nomad identity than anything else.

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In a sense, it may seem presumptuous or judgmental to throw a negative label on people you barely know. On the other hand, the changing nature of the digital nomad scene has been a cause for complaint. Digital nomads are bemoaning the influx of so-called digital bromads and digital gonads in the movement.

A digital bromad subculture may be hard to identify and properly describe but it does involve certain trends and characteristics that can be highlighted. Digital bromads essentially take the bro culture with them abroad. They tout themselves as entrepreneurs who are crushing it (usually doing drop shipping or Amazon FBA), while also spending a lot of time partying with their guy friends. The digital bromad is a curious combination of Tim Ferris wannabe, fraternity bro, and adventure seeker. Digital nomadism offers young men the possibility of ‘living the dream’, which can help to boost their masculine ego. This dream involves picking up women, getting laid all the time, making lots of money, living in cheap countries, partying, and being a highly successful entrepreneur.

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Why are guys pursuing the Bromad lifestyle?

It’s certainly a dream for many men. After all, a lot of men strongly feel that masculinity is tied to promiscuity, self-reliance, work, money, dominance, ambition, and status. This can cause some issues, however, when digital bromads pursue this dream with an extremely individualistic mindset, disregarding the fact that they are living and working in another country and forgetting about being a respectful traveler. Bro culture is often associated with macho-type men who are arrogant, glib, over-confident, and obnoxious – traits which may irritate both locals and other digital nomads.

Many digital bromads enjoy boasting about how many women they’ve slept with or how much money they’re making (or plan to make). Conversations between digital bromads tend to focus on business plans, success, self-improvement, motivational platitudes, and gossip about other male entrepreneurs in the scene. It can be tough, however, maintaining a macho, self-assured persona abroad when personal issues arise.

Just as bro culture has infiltrated the tech and startup industries, the same seems to be happening in the digital nomad scene as well. Yet, perhaps this is unsurprising. After all, common digital nomad jobs, such as e-commerce and programming, are dominated by men. As with the tech and startup industry, the digital nomad community is male-dominated; so digital nomad events and groups can often leave women feeling excluded. And digital bromads may be keen to protect what they perceive as a male-only space or a kind of boys club.

As a digital nomad, it may be tempting to judge a book by its cover and roll your eyes at a digital bromad you’ve spotted. Before jumping to conclusions, though, it could be worth giving every digital nomad a chance. They may surprise you. They might not turn out to be the obnoxious, sexist type of guy you had in mind. And if they do turn out that way, well, then you can just avoid them. The digital nomad movement isn’t ruined by the fact that it attracts toxic and irritating people. As a digital nomad, you can easily connect with authentic, like-minded people during your travels. Don’t be deterred by the lifestyle if you just so happen to bump into some loud-mouthed digital bromads from time to time.

 

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