What Mongolians Nomad teach us about today's Digital Era
Mongolia's vast steppe and wide-open plains are home to one of the world's last surviving nomadic cultures, whose nomadic way of life has been unchanged for generations.
These Mongolians, who continue to follow their ancestors' steps and choose the nomadic way of life, combine their old traditions with new advanced and innovative means.
Mongolia's nomads adapt to modernization in their way and have too much knowledge and lessons to teach us about the digital future.
Nomads are people who travel from one place to another, carrying all their belongings with them.
Who doesn't want to escape from the trappings of modern life? Freedom, fresh air, the animal spirit is what we crave.
Mongolians Adapting Modernization in Their Way
The total population of Mongolia is around 3 million. Simultaneously, many nomads are now traveling to Ulaanbaatar, searching for education, employment, and modern conveniences, which is probably the least green city in the whole wide world. It is a town without any parks, lawns, or trees.
The other half of Mongolia resides in rural areas. There is not a single fence on this rocky land. They have very few paved roads and even fewer electrical lines. It is no wonder it is the most historic land on this planet with wide-open planes of nothing but only ground, grass, and an open sky.
The tents where the nomads live are scattered everywhere. These tents are round and white and are usually known as yurts. But the Mongolians pronounce them as a ger. With wildness being a deception, these gers are home to approximately 1 million gers.
Even today's time, these nomads remain unchanged and follow the same traditions their ancestors used to follow. These traditions are significant to them, and they hold them close. For people like us, who live in a modern world, a world gleaming with WiFi, smart tv, such modern technology. It is a pretty remarkable experience to travel here in Mongolia and discover their clean and peaceful culture.
Surviving Climate Change in Mongolia
The winters in Mongolia are fierce and can reach an extreme. They are long and freezing cold, with a temperature rising far too low that it is mind-boggling.
These nomads prepare for their winters in the summer season, and some even tend to move their ger seasonally. They set up their gear in their desired location in spring for maximum summer pastures; then, they move it again for winter feeding to escape the wind, which is instead punishing.
Nomads can also be called ranches. They are herders and survive entirely on the milk and meat of their flock.
For visitors, mutton is served by every mean that they put forward. It is preserved and is done year-round. Additionally to their meat, they make their yogurt, butter, cheese, kumiss (fermented beer made from mare's milk), milk tea, and milk sweets, which they include in all their meals.
Dependence on the Production of Livestock
Animals do not only tend to provide food. They give the people various other benefits, such as wool from the sheep they use to make their blankets. They also use it to make the thick felt siding for their gers. It helps keep them warm and dry.
Nomads and their animals interdepend on each other. Nomads rely on their animals for survival. Animals, on the other hand, rely on humans or dogs to protect themselves and also young children from wolves and foxes. Nomad's traditional culture depends highly on the supply that is provided by the animals and the vastness that motivates them.
Besides livestock, the nomads don't own much as they become very picky about their possessions. Inside their gers, they have a small wood-burning stove used to cook food, beds with futons, a dresser or two, some tiny stools to lay down. There is no refrigerator. The walls are hung with embroidered felt blankets which are handcrafted. They may possess a rifle for hunting and holds some plastic tubs for water.
The ger itself is also handmade by itself from branches and wool, except obviously the door, which needs to be built by wooden planks.
It is built so that they can easily pack and move in a matter of a few hours.
New Technology Helping Nomadic Culture Thrive
Today, in the present times, the nomads who choose to remain on the steppe combine old traditions with new and innovative means. They continue to spend their lifestyle as pastoral herders, but now most of them use motorbikes to herd cattle and horses, which makes it a little more convenient to travel.
To move their homes and travel due to climate changes, trucks have taken the place of ox carts as they provide to be more useful. As the usage of motorbikes and trucks grows substantially, gas stations now begin to dot the region.
Along with motorbikes and trucks, Solar panels are also becoming a part of the traditional Mongolian home, the ger. These solar panels are a way for them to gain access to electricity without being restricted to one place. They can even carry these solar panels with them.
The nomads particularly need to use solar energy to power their television sets t gain knowledge about the world and continue the use of mobile phones, which, for elderly parents, is the only means to remain in contact with their children attending boarding schools in the city.
Whether from urban or rural backgrounds, Mongolian children usually study in the city to gain access to a good education. In the summer, young children with rural family backgrounds return to the steppe to help their families preserve the herds. Some come back to live in the steppe after finishing their education to continue living in their old traditional ways and keeping it alive.
Unavoidable Innovations in Lifestyle
With the rise of technology that has become a necessity, changes and innovations in lifestyle are unavoidable. But these little changes also help age-old traditions flourish.
These modern technologies have become standard on the steppe. Rather than abandoning their longstanding traditions and lives, Mongolian nomads learn and embrace modernization in their beautiful way. This culture that is continuously evolving and changing gains modern society's conveniences while managing to keep an ancient and mesmerizing lifestyle alive and thriving.
These Mongolians indeed hold a lesson for us and the digital future. We are heading towards an end where we all need to depend more on the environment, if it is rich and well cared of, shall provide.