How to Make Yourself Disappear
There are many reasons why someone may want to make themselves "invisible" or disappear. Sometimes people just get tired of the everyday rat race, sometimes they just want a slower pace of life, or sometimes they've lost a lot in their life and they want to start over more simply.
There are many degrees of disappearing, and I will provide you a large portion of the options available to you. It is obviously up to you to choose what you want to do, as what you choose will provide you with a varying degree of privacy and simplicity. As the steps go on you will notice that they get more extreme. I in no way endorse doing all of these things, I'm merely providing information on what steps you can take to become more invisible. Be warned: If you follow all of these steps then you will probably end up being a hermit living in a tree.
There is a slew of good reasons, but there are also some dishonorable reasons why a person would want to disappear. If you are referencing this material to help you circumvent the law, or any other dishonorable reason, I vehemently request that you not use my information for your purposes. This article is only intended to help people that want to better their lives with simplicity, not violate the law.
Deleting Is False:
You will see the use of the word "delete" frequently throughout this article. The truth about electronic devices is that data is rarely actually deleted. The data is made invisible to you and flagged to be overwritten. That means that the data is still on the device until another file's data is written in place of it.
To expand on this idea, website information is often never deleted either. Nearly any web page can be accessed years after it was deleted via Google and Yahoo's cache. Another popular website is Archive.org that has a huge cache of web pages and it even takes "snap shots" of the page as it changes.
Most major email providers keep huge data backups of the emails on removable tape drives and they usually maintain them for many years on end! That means even though you have deleted and emptied your email trash, there is probably still a copy in archive somewhere.
Remember, even though you think you have deleted it, you probably have not.
Clean Up Your Finances:
If you have outstanding debt, then pay it off. In order to become invisible, you must become free and clear from debt, and any other outstanding obligations. If you do not clear this off then you will have people looking for you and trying to find you. If you do not have people looking for you then being invisible is a whole lot easier!
Eliminate Plastic Money:
Eliminating credit cards and going back to cash is another big step in making yourself invisible. Get rid of the little plastic cards and get back to hard cash. This will have the added benefit of always knowing how much you have to spend.
Credit cards create another way of tracking you. Did you know that if you walk into Best Buy and purchase a computer on a credit card, your now linked to that computer? People can look up where the computer came from and if need be they can subpoena the information about the purchaser. If purchased with cash it makes tracking much more difficult.
Please make note, especially here, this is not an endorsement of criminal behavior. You should follow all laws governing behavior, including honoring digital rights. This is simply information to demonstrate how intertwined everything has become and how little privacy there is. I take no responsibility for any actions or decisions that you make, this is information for knowledge only!
If you are truly serious about getting simple then you may want to close your bank accounts as well. Bear in mind that cashing checks will become exceedingly difficult without paying a high price to a check cashing company, and you will no longer be able to do direct deposit transactions.
If you have a Myspace, a Facebook, or any other online information, delete it. Yes, it will most likely already be cached by major search engines, but it is still helpful. Search for your name in all major search engines and erase any data that you have access to, and contact companies that have you listed to have your information removed. A good example is online phone directories, many people do not realize they are listed in these directories.
A side note about Facebook, you must DELETE your account for your information to be removed. Most people only DEACTIVATE the account. This will leave your data on and accessible. Even after you delete it I'm sure you are still on a tape backup somewhere, but deactivating leaves your data there and fresh for the picking. Facebook does use your data, read their terms!
Access any email accounts that you have used and delete your messages. Be sure to clear out your inbox, outbox, spam folders, favorites, and any other folders that you have. Also, be sure to empty the trash. Many email programs have a trash can that deleted files go to rather than actually deleting them. As mentioned earlier, nearly all (I've heard of none that don't) backup the data on tape drives and they maintain that data for years!
Working Under The Table:
I have to address this topic as I know that some committed to disappearing would mention this. This article is not intended to endorse illegal activities and I will not endorse tax evasion which is often what this is equated to. That is why I am not listing this as one of the steps.
Shredding documents is another big privacy issue and can make you a victim to many crimes including identity theft! A good shredder that does "Diamond" style cutting, not the straight strips, is a good step in the right direction, but another thing you can consider doing is throwing some of the shreds into your garbage, some into a garbage receptacle on the corner and some maybe at your office. If you do this please honor all "No Dumping" signs. This will help lower the possibilities of a criminal piecing information together about you.
This is one of those areas where it may be a little extreme for your tastes. To have the truest simplicity (bordering on hermit-like) electronics need to be abandoned.
Once you have erased yourself, you now have to address your electronics. While they have served as your best friends for years, these little devices should be properly disposed of. If you do not want any of the data accessible then you will want to take any standard hard drives and expose them to a very strong magnet. If you are more daring you can open the hard drive and scratch up and damage the actual disk that stores the data.
For digital storage devices you will need to damage the chip that has the data stored on it. Be sure not to burn any of the electronics as this is awful for the environment and for you to breathe!
I would ordinarily put this in the electronics section but people like to overlook it. The cell phone is another step that you can take to get back to a simpler way of life. People will not be able to bother you at their beck and call and you will not have a tracking device on you wherever you go.
Get Rid Of Your Vehicle:
Getting rid of your vehicle gets rid of a yearly liability and the need for a driver's license. While I will not endorse the abandonment of identification cards, I would be naïve to say this is not a step towards becoming invisible. Just understand that abandoning identification means that you will not have access to certain luxuries that require proof of who you are. If you plan on moving into a tree then I suppose that you will have no issue with that.
Nothing screams invisble like changing your address! If you are truly committed to solitude then moving to a new address will grant that, at least for a little while. And as I said in the beginning, you can also move into a tree. That would be the ultimate in hermit style living.