The Igrarian Age and the Average Joe

The Igrarian Age is upon us. A new epoch is emerging and we have to decide, not just for ourselves, but for our families and loved ones, how will we embrace this emerging economic period. Will we embrace the Igrarian age and develop a nimbleness to survive; or, will we go the way of the Dodo Bird, unable to adapt to the changing economic landscape around us, dying out as we struggle to scratch out an existence in an economically barren landscape?

I know what, you’re thinking, “what the hell is an Igrarian?”

First, let’s start with a little economic history.

The Four Epochs of Man

To date, human existence can be defined as being part of one of four epochs (an epoch is a period of time, often marked by a commonality within the period) –

The Hunter/Gather Age – From the time we first walked upright, to about 10,000 BC we made our living hunting, fishing and gathering edible plants. Life was simple, but harsh. It was literally, eat or be eaten. We migrated across continents following our food sources. We traded, bartered or stole from others those things we needed or wanted. Life was uniquely simple during this period. Each night, the Average Joe’s, would sit around their campfires at night, roasting meats, and tell stories to one another. Life was good.

The Agrarian Age – Beginning around 10,000 BC,we tired of being a nomadic people and we began to settle down; we created villages, invented religions, and we developed social customs like marriage and laws. We learned we could domesticate animals and we began to plant and harvest food crops. We see the emergence of currency (shells, pretty stones, and gold) as a means of determining one’s worth in society.

It was during this time period, that the Average Joe first learned the meaning of a “hard day’s work.

The Industrial Age – Beginning in the 1700’s, mankind tired of working hard in the fields and farms, and realizes he can harness machines to do those things he does not want to do. The Industrial Age emerges. We begin to micro-migrate; we move to the cities where the jobs and the factories are located in order to earn a better living.

Yet, our lives are not made easier; factory work is hard, dirty, and dangerous. Humans now trade their precious time for currency in order to exchange currency for goods and services provided by others. During this time period, a hard working Average Joe is first heard uttering the words, “this job sucks.”

It is a mantra that would be repeated for generations.

The Information Age – By 1970, a new epoch begins to emerge, where knowledge, which is human byproduct of learning and experience, is now as readily available as air and water is in nature. Man soon realizes this information can be harvested and serve as a commodity to be traded; just like gold, silver and other material goods are traded. Ironically, man as a whole is unable to harness this plethora of information for their personal or societal betterment.

Something goes terribly wrong. Despite having all the collective knowledge of mankind at our fingertips, mankind is unable to live a better life. We now work longer hours than ever before, at jobs we do not like, earning more currency with less buying power than ever before.

Whole swaths of society’s middle class are becoming marginalized as they are being displaced from traditionally secure, well-paying jobs, to lessor unsecure positions. Unable to keep up, unable to adapt, and unable to improvise, members of the middleclass are now becoming the lower class. Human migration has now reached epic levels as people move to flee continuous wars and economic uncertainty.

For the Average Joes, depression, suicide, disease, and poverty have reached unheard of magnitudes. An Average Joe utters the catchphrase, “my life sucks,” and it resonates throughout society.

Those who can afford to, take up camping, hunting and fishing as a means to relax and return to our basic roots. Sitting around our campfires, on our “relaxation trips,” we look fondly back at the lives of the Hunter Gatherers and think, “boy, did they have a good thing going.”

Igrarianism

The word Igrarian is an amalgamation of Information and Agrarian for the new blended word of Igrarian.

Igrarianism, is the idea that we would blend internet technology and “online” farming as part of your daily life. We would literally be farming and harvesting the internet to feed ourselves and our families. We would do to the internet, what our forefathers did to the earth; we will plant information, nurture it, and then later harvest that information and trade it for currency, goods and services.

The idea of Igrarianism is a phrase first coined and noted in the blog, Midlife Croesus, a blog about personal finance. Multiple searches through Google and under other search engines has not found a similar use of the term or, for that matter, any use of the term, so, let us give credit where credit is due.

Many of us have heard of YouTubers, Amazon and Ebay superstars making fortunes; Instagram and Facebook celebrities with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of followers; makers of apps who have struck it rich overnight. These are the first wave of Igrarians who have proven that you can make a living from the internet. As Les Brown once said, “if one person has done it, than anyone can do it.”

Adapting the Agrarian Mindset

I have had the pleasure of working in several Amish communities.

They live a simple agrarian life. They eschew glamour. They are family centric. The community functions as a team when it is time to pull together. Can we learn from this? Can we benefit from this frame of thinking and mindset?

The Amish first migrated to America in the 1700’s. The Amish of the 21st century, emulate the Amish of the 1700’s. That is how little they have changed with their customs. But in their three hundred plus years, how have the Amish been effected by the economic swings of the last three centuries? How many times have they been laid off from their jobs? Let go because they wanted a raise? Downsized because they are too old? The short answer is, they have not.

The Amish operate in an agrarian environment, free from the economic forces that affect us Average Joes.

The Amish have cornered a very specific niche lifestyle/business from which they have prospered and which allows them to pass on their wealth for generations:

• People still need to eat. The Amish raise livestock and crops for which to feed people. They always have customers coming to them for their organically grown foods.

• People need furniture. The Amish spend their spare time making quality goods which they sell. People come from miles around to happily buy and pay top dollar for.

• Familial farms are passed down from one generation to the next. Thus, generational wealth is developed and kept within the family, not depleted, as we sell off our homes to pay for nursing care and later stage health care.

• Amish are not depended on outside economic forces which dictate how much they will pay for goods and services. In effect, they do not suffer from the crippling effects of inflation like we do. The labor costs of helping your neighbor build a barn in the 18th century is the same labor costs in the 21st century.

The Amish have mastered a lifestyle, which will continue to flourish for hundreds of years.

But, we can do the same, as Igrarians. And, we can still enjoy our electricity.

Two Options Going Forward

First we have to accept that the Information Age is here to stay AND we have to adapt to it economically. Second, we have to accept the fact that no job, no career, is ever permanent AND we have to generate our own sources of income. Third, we have to accept the fact that we have got to take responsibility for our actions and take care of ourselves AND no one else will. We cannot expect anyone else to care for us. So, what do we do?

The Igrarian Hunter Gatherer Lifestyle

I am an Igrarian Hunter Gather.

I rely on phone apps to seek out small financial nuts and berries; I do secret shopping, I take surveys, I go about gathering receipts and scan them into a database. All of these simple things give me a constant secondary source of money. At any given time, I have hundreds, if not thousands, of extra dollars, locked into the aps that are downloaded on my phone (see my Stuff You Need page for ideas).

In the event of an emergency, I simply “cash out.” And, begin redeeming those hidden away funds. This back up money, gives me an immense sense of security. In my younger days, I understood all too well what it was like living paycheck to paycheck, bouncing checks, incurring overdraft fees. Now, I am free from that.

Each day, I check my phone, I plot my course and I go harvest a few dollars. A few extra dollars, each day, times 365 days a year, goes a long, long way!

But, it is not enough. And, much like the Hunter Gatherers of old, I will die out if I do not increase my “digital farming”.

The Igrarian Agrarian Lifestyle

I am striving to be a full fledge Igrarian.

I am planting digital seeds with my Average Joe Arbitrage blog; hoping one day to harvest these “digital plants” and to earn a constant stream of revenue from them.

I am always looking for ways to increase my digital footprint with other sources of monies. I have published digital books. I am constantly looking how I can expand my online businesses. I study Search Engine Optimization, I ask for help, and I attend seminars to increase my knowledge base. I have to prepare for change. I cannot wait for change to happen to me. This Average Joe will chart his own destiny.

But, what about you? What are you doing?

Are you adopting an Igrarian mindset, or, are you still stuck in the 20th century hoping you can avoid the pain and suffering that so many others have suffered? Do you think inflation will pass you by unscathed? Do you work at a job you love where you whistle while you work? These are questions you have to ask yourself.