Is it possible to leave society and live “off the grid”?

Zsolt Hermann
2 min readJan 23, 2022

Question from the Internet:

“If a society is worse to live in than being a hunter-gatherer-gardener and it has to conspire to keep people off the land and from returning to that lifestyle, then it is a failure, agreed?”

The situation is not that simple.

First of all, we cannot look at individuals and society separately. We are all part of human society, regardless of where we live and what we do. While it is true that society, the overall culture, ideology, religion, and other prevalent values influence, change and form us, everything that exists — including society, ideologies, cultures, and religions, etc — are the product of our inherent human nature.

It is human nature that is the root cause for everything that happens, so we have to be careful with the cause and effect process when we are searching for solutions. Humanity’s biggest mistake so far has been trying to change, manipulate the consequences without recognizing, touching the root cause, which is our own inherently selfish, individualistic, and exploitative ego.

It is true that we were hunter-gatherers once, and there might still be people who find such a life attractive and imagine that they could suffice with it. But in general our driving force, the insatiable, all-powerful ego — the only force, a quality that differentiates humans from other animals, other developed primates, the single reason humanity’s breakneck progress compared to apes that remained the same for millions of years — has been growing, intensifying through history.

People in developing countries — like China or India for example — do not leave their lands because they are forced off their lands, they go to cities in the hope of a better life. Especially as we constantly compare ourselves to others, as we see how others live with greater wealth or power, we inevitably also want it and follow their examples.

This is how we are programmed.

The fact that people who are disgusted by what general societies have become and want to return to “the land” does not mean a return to a “hunter-gatherer” life “off the grid”. Our nature that constantly wants more cannot reverse evolution, we can’t return to the life our predecessors lived unless some catastrophe forces us.

There are popular videos on Youtube, people documenting their life “off the grid” while they basically broadcast their life live with the latest technology, wanting people to follow and adore them. Are they truly “off the grid”?

We can’t reverse history and we can’t suppress, erase our egos as we already know from history as well. But we can learn — after we recognized, accepted what our initial nature and internal software are and how destructive, harmful it is — how to overcome our ego’s instinctive behavior and harness, channel its incredible power, driving force towards positive, constructive, mutually responsible and mutually complementing, collective goals and purpose.

Then we can build societies we will not want to run away from.



Zsolt Hermann

I am a Hungarian-born Orthopedic surgeon presently living in New Zealand, with a profound interest in how mutually integrated living systems work.