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Have you ever wanted to disappear? To live your life in peace and never be found by anyone again? There are a number of reasons why someone would want to start a new life, everything from being a victim of abuse to living in a tough environment to being forced to live in some crazy esoteric cult, there are hundreds of circumstances that would pucsh someone to want to run away.
Whatever the reason, it is possible to disappear without being found again? While it may still be possible even in today’s highly technological world, where everything is mapped, recorded, captured; the question is would you have what it takes to pull it off?
How to disappear?
We live in a world where a lot of people talk, and very few actually follow through with their ideas. However, I know how unimaginably difficult it must be to actually follow through with something so radical as this, something that would likely change your life forever.
If you are considering trying to disappear, it means circumstances are so difficult and unrepairable that literally, any other alternative is better. Often when we think of starting a new life, we imagine sitting on some tropical beach in an exotic locale. The problem is, starting over isn’t as romantic as our mind makes it, it will likely be very challenging, emotionally overwhelming and may have many more risks than we realize-all depending on what your running away from of course.
Knowing how to disappear is one thing – doing it is another.
Is it actually possible to disappear in today’s world where everything is recorded, online, paid with credit cards, documented electronically?
If you want to physically disappear this requires a lot of planning and preparation as well as some knowledge on how the law works so you don’t cross that line and get the authorities after you. Running away from the authorities is never a good idea. Running away from some person is one thing and running away from the state is another.
Who needs to run away?
There are many situations that you may find yourself in where you feel you can’t take it anymore and need to start over. Depending on what kind of trouble you are in may lead you may need something more formal something more like:
- Political Asylum
- Witness Protection programs
There are many different forms of physical, psychological or emotional abuse that may be impossible to deal with forcing you to disappear from anyone be that a partner, friend or boss.
Before we decide in our mind its time to leave, an important question to ask ourselves is, have I don’t everything I can to try and find a solution to the problem?
Disappearing should really be a last resort, as it is essentially starting over from zero, with no support network, no friends, no family, nothing, just you.
While we all may find ourselves in many forms of unpleasant and non-functional life situations, its one thing to put up with difficulty and overcoming it and another when your involved in life-threatening social enviroments like:
- extremist groups
Actions can quickly escalate from harmless to life-threatening quickly and when that happens many people feel trapped without knowing what to do or who to turn to.
Once you have exhausted all other possibilities and made that decision to disappear, its time to start planning.
How to disappear when such a large part of our life is now online? It’s not just Facebook and Instagram that you have to look out for, it’s all of our apps, browsing, email, banking information and everything else that is stored in the cloud.
All of our data is trackable that is tied to this online persona that we interact with on a daily basis. Our digital persona registers every time we get a Macy’s Card, sign up for a new catalog promotion, or even download a new app.
Uninstalling all your apps and not going to Macy’s isn’t going to cut it, as all of our phones are trackable through GPS, so will have to go way farther down the rabbit whole in order to erase your online identity.
If you want to disappear completely it’s not be enough to just quit a few apps and get rid of social media. While Facebook has some of the most intrusive tracking software that feeds you personalized advertising, google also tracks every click, purchase and video you watch.
To begin to reclaim your online persona you need to do a few things
Anonymous email – There are secure email providers such as Protonmail are anonymous and not directed connected to you
Virtual Private Network (VPN) – You’ll get your own private IP address, encrypted data connections as well as secure online transactions with the added benefit of bypassing any restrictions on Facebook or YouTube
Anonymous Browser –There are browsers like TOR browser has been used by many different groups over the years including journalists who need a way to encrypt data making it impossible for anyone to know your search history
However, this just covers the basics, there are many elements that you would really need to look into if you really wanted to be thorough and erase or reclaim your online presence.
Anytime we make online purchases, sign up for a gym membership, take part in any social group or even use an ATM or credit card – that information is kept and recorded. Not only do you need to learn how to delete your online presence but to prevent this information to be continually used in the future you would need to limit your interaction in the future with any type of technology that captures a digital footprint. Anytime your details are saved is just one more footprint left for someone to be able to track you down.
Reclaiming your online presence is a vast topic in and of itself and there is a whole industry devoted to reclaiming your data from the heads of Big Tech. The more time, energy, money and resources devoted to disappearing the less likely it will be that someone will find out where you are.
Immediate solutions to the technology problem: going off-grid
While it may not be entirely possible for every people to spend their whole life disconnected from the web of things going off the grid it does make a good place to start especially if you are in the process of starting a new identity.
Off the grid usually means living in a remote environment that is essential – off the grid. Meaning it is not on the electrical grid. It also likely does not have any phone lines, water, propane, fiber optics and everything else that comes in a modern home that is hooked into state electrical grids. But what this also means is that it is more removed from intrusive technology.
Going off the grid will drastically reduce the possibility of you showing up on some random online grid accidentally which will make it that much harder for you to be tracked.
Most of today’s traceable elements are detected through some form of digital footprint. If you escape into the woods outside some small town then you not only are you not plugged in, but you are more likely to escape CCTV cameras that are now installed in many bigger cities. Living on the fringes of a small town will make it harder for your face to appear on a CCTV.
While living in small towns has its own share of difficulties, such as everyone: knows everyone, harder to remain a face in the crowd, for the immediate future it can be a good place to start.
However, with that said, bigger towns do offer you more chances to blend in, allowing you too move from place to place if you needed to, and find a temporary job. So big town or small town will largely depend on your circumstances. We have seen both environments recommended in other how-to disappear guides.
Change your identity
To ensure that you are unrecognizable even if your face is caught on camera means that you have to change your identity.
Changing your identity not only involves changing your physical appearance but having all identifying documents replaced so that you can move about, get an apartment, new bank account without having any red flags come up on a missing person. (in case your name was dropped to authorities)
Getting a new driver’s license would likely be enough for you initially. To disaprea completely new documents would make it much more difficult for any government agency or private investigation to track you.
Changing your identity also means coming up with a new story.
There is a lot more to changing your identity than just simply getting new documents. You need to gather a lot of personal information about the person you are going to change into and its very difficult to adopt a new identity from scratch.
To really convince yourself and others you need to inhabit a complete different mindset and that doesn’t come just because you wake up one morning and jump into a new pair of shoes.
The most successful instances where people have actually pulled off being able to disappear and change their identity comes through diligent planning.
Often it is recommend to find a person who is already dead and take one their name that way there is some form of story already in the records. Making up a new person out of thin air without any evidence to back makes it much harder to pull off.
Taking on another persons identy who already passed gives you some layer of legitimacy. Of course if the person really does some digging they begin to see things don’t match, but often all you need to a vail of legitimacy for you to get away with most things.
People who have successfully disappeared are usually the ones who had time to put together all of their ducks before taking off.
The most important thing about disappearing is being completely ready for it and knowing what your end goal is when doing so else it may be very difficult to carry on with the facade.
Change your appearance
There are 6 general ways that a person is recognized:
- 1. Gait
- 2. Appearance
- 3. Face
- 4. Voice
- 5. Distinguishable features
- 6. Location
Depending on how deep down the rabbit hole you want to go and the situation that you are trying to get out of will determine the lengths you are wanting to put yourself through. Changing your appearance will help create a new persona and leave behind the old and will help the transition process as it will be all too easy to slip back into your old familiar self.
A big part of becoming a new person is not only about changing appearance but also, psychological. Anything that you can do that will help you to detach from that old self will ultimately make the transition more seamless.
Getting a hair cut, coloring your hair different and changing the way you dress can be helpful in creating this new identity. Radically altering your appearance will help to disidentitgy from your old self.
Some other things such as contacts instead of glasses, changing up how much makeup is worn (if wearing any), adding piercings or tattoos that show personality traits will help and subtleties that will help pull off a new look.
There are of course more drastic measures you could go through including getting prosthetics, botox, facial reconstruction surgery etc. How far you take it depends on how you feel in each phase of the transition. The more you add or take away from your previous self the more you will be able to notice things that stick out.
While changing your appearance may be the easy bit, but changing your accent and your gait takes a lot of practice. Similar to trying to change your handwriting, we are so accustomed to a way of doing things that those muscular patterns do not change overnight.
Before you walk out the door
By now you have already made the decision to escape the next step would be to start to put all your affairs in order. There are many different ways that you could go about doing this. Everything from just walking out the door, to meticulously mapping out where you are going, what you are leaving behind, selling belonging, closing accounts, getting new phones, clothes etc..
Who to tell?
Who do you plan on telling? While everyone may not agree as the best course of practice here, as it may seem logical to not tell anyone what you are doing and where you are going, however that may be very difficult especially when you have loved ones, friends or family who you care about.
There are two ways of looking at it, if you tell someone then they are liable to tell others, and if you don’t they may start searching for you, and before you know it there could be a man hunt or SOS that send police and all sorts of community search groups that could be put on alert in search for your whereabouts.
What you ultimately decide will be dependent upon the circumstances you find yourself in, who is after you and what you are running away from.
When you are about to begin a new life and take on a new persona it’s important to have a background story that fits. Disconnecting from your past is not something that you can do overnight. By creating a new persona you will be more able to identify with the character that you are trying to play.
Seeing yourself as an actor, as if in a play might help to dissociate from the narrative of your former life. Be an actor in your new story, and be open to the idea that you can play any role.
Tips to not get caught when trying to make your great escape
There are a million different factors and variables that can come into play when your planning your escape. Here are just a few that might help to begin your great escape.
- Travel discreetly
- Learn self-defense
- Use cash
- Travel alone
- Look for places out from the well traveled path
- Do not try and reconnect with your old life
- Pick a new place that you have never been
- Be careful about connecting with people from the past
- Commit yourself to what you are doing
- Try not to fall out of character
- Form a plan that will enable you to be self-sustaining
Disappearing is a form of suicide. It is a revocable kind of death where one destroys his old life but not his chance to start a new one.
Starting a new life
Growing up I always wondered how people could disappear.
The vast majority of people especially in the United States are completely tied to their identity.
Even when they try and change their life, it is a symbolic act that doesn’t go deep enough or last long enough to really make any difference.
Starting with a blank slate may feel daunting, but we likely have done it many times without knowing it, the first day of school, work, college, and even moving to a new state or country is like starting over.
Though this is a different scenario the idea is the same. Without any external self references that continually tell you who you are through familiar places, associations and connections you are more able to take live outside of how people treat you
As trying it all can be, especially when you are running away and trying to hide, it can also be liberating as you begin to see the possibilities that lay before you and the opportunity to carve out something out of nothing.
There are not many times, especially later in life when you have the opportunity to be able to re-create a life for yourself. And once you have successfully navigated the technical bits you will be able to re create a any life that you feel is worth living.