Reverse Culture Shock

home-sweet-home

Returning home after a long travel yields reverse culture shock: your own culture will feel odd and unnatural. I originally dismissed reverse culture shock as made up nonsense for digital nomads to talk about. Then I went through it. It’s real.

Food

I gained THIRTY POUNDS in the three months since being back in the United States from our around the world trip. Holy hell. The food in the US is loaded with sugar. Even Subway is guilty of this: there are 5 grams of sugar in a serving of their Turkey. Go look it up on their site. In their turkey is “dextrose”, a type of added sugar. Why is sugar in something that isn’t even supposed to be sweet? Because food in the US is meant to be addictive. Sugar gives a sugar high (and crash) which allows addiction to form.

We weren’t eating healthy while traveling around the world. Eating out every meal and drinking all the local alcohol. The wine was so good in Argentina we had a bottle every day for a month. Good thing we left or we would have died of alcohol poisoning. But with the ridiculous amount of sugar in the food in the states, maybe it was healthier to stay in Argentina.

People

The people back home were exactly the same as when I left. I felt like I had learned and grown more in a year than I did in the previous 10 years. It was jarring to see that everyone else was still in the same spot. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way as I’m sure people who have had large life events felt the same about me at one time or another. It was weird to see the rest of the world basically frozen in time.

Alicia and I meet doctors, lawyers, and other traditionally successful people when we travel. When they hear our situation, they pause for a moment. The wheels turn. They inevitably reply: “I’m in the wrong profession.”. I’ve heard that statement dozens of times. Because the traditionally successful people pour in tons of hours per week to get all the trappings of success. And some moron like me lives their vacation permanently. Going home and watching everyone fight rush hour traffic reinforces the idea: WTF are people doing with their lives? So much is possible.

Pace of life

Being back home is boring. Boring as fuck. I spend the days trying to figure out how to fill the time. Everyone else has a day job and no free time so it’s a lot of time at home. I guess I’ll try and make more money? Meh, we have more money than we need.

So we book small trips out of the country before we leave long-term again, just to burn time. Mexico and Curacao for diving. Might as well run a half marathon in California at Disneyland. Let’s go visit our parents in both Minnesota and Florida. I hear we can go SCUBA diving in Epcot Center. Heck, let’s go to Las Vegas and gamble because why not?

Routine

Wake up. Work is done before noon. Work out. Take a nap. Play some video games. Is this how people live? Holy fuck kill me.

It took Alicia two weeks being back home before she agreed we should sell the house and get the hell out.

Being a digital nomad comes with a cost

I didn’t know that when I left on our round the world trip that I was burning bridges with my past life. I actually thought that I could just pick up where I left off. But when we got “home”, it was immediately obvious that we were different. We no longer fit in our previous life.  And there was no going back.

What no one tells you about running your own business

doomed

Here is what no one tells you about running your own business.

Always on the clock

Alicia and I were recently celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary in Curacao. On the day of our anniversary we held a client call. Because when you own a business, there are no days off. Every day blends between work and not-work.

Entrepreneurship is like chewing glass while staring into the abyss. The abyss fades, but the chewing glass never does. – Elon Musk

Clients won’t pay on time

Regular people have to pay their bills monthly. Clients will pay their bills whenever they damn well feel like it. That could be this month. That could be 6 months from now. Imagine not getting paid for 6 months. This is standard for businesses.

You can be fired at will

While normal employees can be fired at will as well, there are still laws that dictate the employee must be warned beforehand and given a chance to change. Your clients do not have these laws restricting their foot up your ass.

Even good things that happen can get you fired, like having your client contact be promoted. When the new contact comes in, they might just bring in a new company to work with and kick your company out.

You’ll get used to the feeling of being near-fired every week. Or you’ll not have a business anymore.

Accounting

There is a stupid amount of paperwork to file every year. Forms with the government, IRS, and clients will eat up free time and energy. It never goes away and there’s no one else to do it.

15% additional income tax

Did you know that self-employment also comes with an additional 15% income tax on top of everything you already pay?

Starting a business is already one of the harder endeavors. That’s why so few people do it. Now take all the stress, long hours, and uncertainty and pay the government 15 cents more on every dollar you make.

Tax laws

Before you start a business, you’ll know next to nothing about taxes. After starting a business, you’ll quickly be an expert. You’ll know what percentage of your home is deductible, what purchasable items are deductible, and what tax breaks to take advantage of.

Yes there are a lot of deductions, but they are to help offset the ridiculous 15% self employment income tax increase. The end result is that you’ll still pay more in taxes than the average person. And in addition, it’s a lot more work.

The buck stops here

The average employee gets to say “it’s not my job!”. As the owner, everything is your job. You’re now a marketer + engineer + designer + customer service + HR + manager.

It’s not only 6x the responsibility, it’s 6x the blame.

Eat what you kill

Paul Graham calls it “default alive or default dead”. If new customers or clients are constantly coming in through the door, your business is default alive. If not, your business is doomed at some point in time.

Anxiety

One client fired you + Other client hasn’t paid $30K invoice + Other client numbers look terrible this quarter = oh god I fainted.

Few Mentors

People will no longer be able to relate to your problems. No shoulders to cry on. No sage advice given.

Other people get paid every two weeks like clockwork. You haven’t been paid in months.

Other people clock out and forget about work until Monday. You’re in a hotel in Mexico on your supposed vacation taking care of an emergency.

Other people complain about a co-workers drama. You’re wondering how you’ll survive this month.

No road map

There’s no instruction book. The only qualified people to teach how to succeed are busy with their own businesses.

How do you know you’re doing well? You stay in business for another month. How do you know you’re doing poorly? You’re out of business.

The only constant is change

The world is changing so fast that what was true a year ago is no longer true today (yet another reason college is a scam). Over the next few years, the taxi and trucking industry will cease to exist due to self-driving cars. The hotel industry is facing heavy competition from Airbnb. Neither travel nor real estate agents saw the writing on the wall when the internet ravaged their industries. Cable companies see dwindling subscription numbers as the public chooses Netflix and Hulu. Manufacturing is forever-gone due to advances in robotics and 3D printing.

On top of all the headaches of owning a business, you also have to change your business with the times or die.

Is starting a business right for you?

For me, it 100% was worth it. I enjoy the challenge and the ambiguity. Most people don’t.

The rewards are off the charts better than a typical office job. But that’s only if you succeed. Most people don’t. That’s why new businesses are being started at a 40-year low. It’s a hard road.

Lies Society Tells Us

lies-society-tells-us

Every society has lies that everyone agrees are true. They look at other cultures and think “that’s so weird!” without recognizing their own ridiculous views.

During the Salem Witch Trials, people burned women to death because of perceived sorcery. If you think society is so enlightened now, realize that people’s lives have been ruined if they dare to think outside the norm:

Here are some of the odd beliefs held today or relatively recently. Try telling these things to other people, and they might hunt you down like a Salem Witch too. Groupthink is strong.

We’ll start slow, and work our way up. I’m not trying to be a bastard by pointing these out. I’m trying to help. Many of these corrections can help you lose weight, save money, and live happier.

Lie: Smoking is healthy

There was once upon a time where smoking was seen as a healthy thing for adults to do. Science even backed it up… until people realized that the “science” was paid for by tobacco companies. Then the real evidence showed that smoking cuts ~8 years off of a person’s life.

Fun fact: smokers and obese cost the health care system LESS because they die so much earlier and suddenly.

Lie: Fruit Juice, Sports Drinks are healthy

Orange juice is experiencing a significant decline as people realize it’s nothing more than sugar water. Fruit juice of all kinds is just empty calories: just like soda pop. Drinking calories is strongly correlated with the obesity epidemic in the US.

Sports drinks are just sugar water too. “Electrolyte” is just a fancy word for sodium.

Lie: The United States is a Democracy

No I’m not talking about some conspiracy theory, I’m talking about the basic definitions of words. Did you know that the word “democracy” isn’t in the constitution? The US is a Republic: we elect officials to act on our behalf. A democracy would be if the public personally voted on every issue. Just like “literally” now means “figuratively”, the definition of the word “democracy” seems to have been lost.

Lie: Home Ownership is an Investment

Houses have not gained any value over inflation in the past 100 years. There is simply no way to prove mathematically that your personal home makes money. The people telling you that they are good investments are the same people selling the house/loan to you.

Lie: Having sex with a virgin cures HIV/AIDS

Some college friends did a study-abroad in Africa. They said it was a very common belief there that having sex with a virgin would cure the disease. Very sad.

Lie: Cardio is how you lose weight

You lose weight in the kitchen, you get fit in the gym.

An hour on the treadmill burns 500 calories. That’s the same amount calories in a Starbucks latte that takes 5 minutes to consume. You can’t outrun a bad diet.

Lie: 220 lbs for a 6 foot tall male is normal

Look at the pictures of me on the site. I’m 185 lbs, 6 feet tall. Wherever I go outside the US, I’m the fattest guy there. The US is so big that our idea of what’s “normal” is warped.

220 lbs at 6 feet tall is obese on the BMI scale.

Lie: Insurance helps

Go back and look at how much money you’ve spent in home/health/car/other insurance over the years. It’s a lot.

Now go back and add up all the money you’ve received from it. It’s… a lot less.

I think I got a few hundred dollars off some dentist visits. But I’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars. To get nothing. People use insurance these days as a cash-flow smoother because they can’t afford a $500 surprise payment. But for that protection, they pay several hundred dollars more per month. For nothing.

When you make a claim, first you have to pay the deductible before insurance pays anything. Then your insurance goes up because you’re now high risk.

How to save money without feeling broke gives some advice on how to handle insurance.

Lie: Cellphones/Food Chemicals/Cleaning Chemicals cause cancer

Simple proof of why these are nonsense: 20-30 year-olds aren’t getting cancer despite using these products for decades. If the additives in food really caused cancer, then we’d see a big jump in young people getting it. But we don’t. It’s still [generally] people over 50 and with a family history of it that get cancer.

Between 2003 and 2012 overall cancer incidence rates continued to decrease among men and remain stable among women.”

While incidence rates of cancer among children have gone up, it’s statistically insignificant: 16 cases for every 100,000 children in 1985 vs 18 cases per 100,000 people in 2012. Assuming an overestimate of 100 million children in the US, 200 extra incidents of child cancer exist per year (with an 80% survival rate).

Lie: Steroids are a miracle drug to becoming fit

People think you can get these bodies by magic if you take steroids, and it’s ridiculous. Steroids allow you to work out longer and recover faster (so you can work out even more!). Becoming that lean to see the muscle striations takes extreme care in eating habits. Getting bodybuilder physiques requires insane dedication.

Lie: College is necessary to succeed

College is a scam. Don’t be mad about this, I’m just the messenger. And I fell for it too, if that makes you feel better.

Most college degrees are useless. Colleges have saddled a generation with debt that will follow them for decades, and gave nothing in return. There are more ways to make money than ever before.

Lie: Rich don’t pay taxes

The top 1% pay almost 50% of all income tax while the bottom 60% of wage earners are expected to pay 2% of all income tax.

Alicia and I are taxed at 47% of every dollar we earn. We cut checks to the government that are more than people make in a year. Refund check? What’s that?

CEO’s especially are underpaid.

Lie: Teachers are underpaid

From the bureau of labor statistics:

  • Engineering professions: $83,000/year
  • Teaching professions: $53,000/9 months, $70,000/year
  • Health Care practioners: $77,000/year
  • Computer and Mathematical operations: $86,000/year
  • Business and Financial operations: $73,000/year
  • Sales: $39,000/year
  • Personal Care: $26,000/year
  • Protective Services: $44,000/year

Prorated to a yearly salary, teachers are among the highest paid professionals in the country, right there with Doctors, Engineers, and Programmers.

Before the teachers among you can scream “teachers work more than that!”, I’ll remind you that every other profession works unpaid overtime as well. My dad says that in the hospital ER, they hire the interns that have to be told when to leave work or they wouldn’t. I lived in the office for a month to complete a project.

Lie: 2008 Financial Crisis was all Wall Street’s fault

The fault is 50/50 with Wall Street and the American people. Wall Street collapsed because people didn’t pay back their loans. Was Wall Street guilty of giving people loans that shouldn’t have gotten them? Absolutely! But the people took on loans they couldn’t possibly afford.

ARM Loans and interest-only loans never made sense in the past 10 years which have seen historically low interest rates. If the interest rate is at historic lows (and it was, and is), then you have to lock in because there was nowhere to go but up! It’s an amazingly simple concept that people failed to grasp. And it destroyed people’s lives, and the economy.

Lie: mutual funds or picking stocks are good investments

Warren Buffet has a bet since 2008 that a simple index fund (like the Vanguard Index) will always beat a managed fund or stock picking. The reason is because a managed fund has management fees to take out. Picking stocks doesn’t work because the average investor is woefully under-informed compared to the competition. If you think you can compete picking individual stocks, remember that Congress can legally do insider trades. The system is rigged against the individual.

No mutual fund has ever beaten the market over a 10 year period. Ever. Two thirds of mutual funds won’t beat the market in any given year. Go look at your retirement account and realize with horror how much money you’ve been throwing away.

Lie: Macs are better than PCs

Apple computers run on PC hardware using a free Linux operating system. Apple developed none of it. They just slapped their logo on the box. It’s all marketing. To get that Apple logo and a computer that will run a tiny fraction of all available programs, you have to pay a 30%+ up-charge.

Apple computers are a weird religion.

Surprised?

I’m sure there’s more lies that society told me that I still believe. It’s hard to figure out because these lies have been told to us since birth. And people get emotionally attached to the lies. The lies become part of who we are as a person. Once someone starts saying things like “I’m a Ford guy” or “I’m a [political party]”, they emotionally attach themselves to that position. Then it becomes a heated debate void of all logic on silly topics like “Ford vs Chevy”, “Paleo vs Atkins”, or anything sports.

Let go of emotional attachment to the lies. Just be you.

How did the media get the 2016 election so wrong? Easy, they lied to us

fivethirtyeight-is-terrible

How did the media get the 2016 presidential election so wrong? Easy. They lied to us.

The most common trick the media pulled in 2016 was to over-sample registered Democrats to create a story. Democrats will tend to vote for Clinton and Republicans will tend to vote Trump. By asking more people that will likely vote for Clinton their preference, you will get a poll showing her winning.

The US population is 29% registered Republican, 33% registered Democrat, and 38% Independent (according to 2012 post election data). But when you look at the polling methodology, the polls will have 45% Democrat, 25% Republican, and 30% Independent. Of course Clinton looks like she’s ahead in those polls! But they don’t reflect real life turnout, as seen by the results of the election.

fivethirtyeight-is-terrible

Here’s a user that takes polling data directly from reuters.com and draws conclusions.

poll-oversamples
Click for Large

What does the graph say in simple English?

The red and blue lines track Trump and Clinton, respectively.

The green line is the percent difference between the number of Democrats and Republicans. The higher the green line is, the more Democrats they put in the poll to make Clinton’s numbers go up. As the green line goes, so does the blue line.

So why does the green line rise and dip? Why wouldn’t the pollsters keep the polls the same to be factually accurate? Because the media wanted to construct stories about Clinton or Trump rising or falling in the polls!

Democratic Convention “bump”

On the far left of the graph, we can see the green line is at 0. This means the polls are roughly reflecting reality of equal parts Democrat and Republican. Look and see that Trump was winning when the polls weren’t skewed. Trump was ahead the entire time!

The Democratic National Convention was held from 7-25 to 7-28. Look what the pollsters did: they started wildly oversampling Democratic voters to make it look like Hillary was pulling away.

The opinion of the general population didn’t change. The pollsters just started asking more Democrats who they’d vote for. Because they wanted to create a story about Clinton winning.

First Presidential Debate: 9-26-16

Again, the oversampling stops right before the debate because the media wants to create a story where Clinton scored a resounding debate win over Trump.

Pollsters pulled their polls or didn’t show their polls when Trump was far ahead

Reuters had a poll up on election day showing Trump up by 6 points (his soon-to-be margin of victory). They pulled down not only that day, but all days back to November 1st. Why 11/1? Because that was the last day Clinton was winning in their polls.

RealClearPolitics.com simply refused to update their polls if Trump was winning. So there were months-old polls still up by election day. And these months-old polls showed Clinton winning.

2012 vs 2016 Primary Turnout

Presidential primary turnout is a great indicator of general election turnout. It has been an accurate predictor of the past several elections.

Republican turnout was up 62%. Democrat turnout was down 21%. And yet every pollster still thought that grossly oversampling Democrats was a good idea.

TheGatewayPundit.com corrected for increased Republican enthusiasm in the polls and found Trump easily winning. The truth was always right in front of us, but the pollsters hid it.

Two weeks before the election, the polls mysteriously went from +12 Clinton to +2 Clinton

ABC News:

From a 50-38 percent Clinton lead over Donald Trump […] it’s a 47-45 percent contest in the latest results.

 

This was several days before FBI Director Comey re-opened the felony case against Clinton, so it couldn’t be that. In a week of zero new news, Clinton bizarrely collapsed in the polls. This isn’t possible.

It was pollsters trying to salvage their post-election reputation because they knew Trump would win. They all unskewed the polls because they saw the writing on the wall. If Trump won with a +2 Clinton lead and a margin of error of +-3, then the pollsters could claim it was just chance and that their methods correctly accounted for it. But Trump winning after showing all the polls +12 for Clinton would destroy their professional credibility.

Why did the media do this?

They are bought and paid for. Here is the Clinton campaign asking for poll over-samples to use in released WikiLeaks emails. WikiLeaks has a perfect 10 year reputation for only releasing verified true material.

The following links are a tiny sample of how the Clinton campaign was working closely with the media, telling the media what to report,

The only thing @NateSilver538 and @FiveThirtyEight got right about Trump all election season

Check the date of this tweet.

Newspaper endorsements for Trump: 1
Newspaper endorsements for Clinton: 41

Newspapers were in on the take too.

The same people that rigged the polls were the same people disparaging Donald Trump 

The media already lied to us about the polls. We all saw the election.

(Like this post? You’d love my book Meme Magic: How Stupid Pictures of Badly Drawn Frogs Influenced the 2016 Election)