How To Be Anonymous

The world is too big. There are too many thoughts. Too many feelings. There’s just too much for one soul to bear.

Paranoia is defined by Merriam Webster as a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self importance. A second definition says it is a suspicion or mistrust of people and their actions without evidence of their justification.

Whoever knows paranoia though, knows that the things they think always have a hint of evidence, all though many times it’s unclear whether that evidence was real or not, but fuck, you could’ve sworn it was.

You could’ve sworn you heard whispers or there was just something in the way that person looked at you that said volumes. Those things alone are evidence enough.

It’s essentially a fear and it’s a fear that cannot be conquered. It stays with you no matter what meds you take or what therapy techniques you devote your time to and even when you think it’s gone, it whispers sweet nothings into your ear throughout your day, sometimes at the most inopportune times.

It’s enough to make someone want to hide, to disconnect and to be away from the world because when you’re alone at least you can deal with the whisperings without worrying what the lady at the table across from you is thinking as she sees you shifting in your chair, or rubbing your eyes with a lonely persecuted look coursing across your brow.

The first step in anonymity is to move away. Leave the small town and disappear into a crowded city where no one makes eye contact and the strange have just as much a presence as the normal. You will see people dancing down the street and people that yell psychotic mutterings and in time you will realize that no matter how strange you were in your small town, you’re much closer to sane here. You will also realize that everybody you see has a life of their own as deep and rich and multifaceted as yours and nobody really has the time to persecute or even wonder about why you do the things you do.

On the inverse, you could move to a decrepit cabin deep in the woods where there is no electricity or running water, where you have to kill your own food, haul wood for your fire and go down to the stream everyday to collect water. There will be times though, when no matter how alone you want to be, you will get lonely and make the excuse of having to go to town for supplies, when really all you want is a warm smile. When you come into town, people will stare at your matted hair, your ratty clothes and your dirty beard and they will talk, they will wonder and you may not even find that smile and you will be reminded of why it was that you wanted to escape.

In either situation you will have to cancel your Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and blog and erase every trace of you that has ever graced the internet. If you’re alone in the woods without electricity, the internet will be a non-option anyway. But even in the city, if anyone can find a trace of you on the internet, they will read what you write and scrutinize what you post and they will find a way to judge, if not you, the avatar you’ve created of you.

The third and most important step in becoming anonymous is to sacrifice existing relationships and forego any future relationships. If you refuse to let anyone in, they will never think anything negative of you aside from the passing judgments that everyone makes about everyone else. You will, by this time though, have realized that these passing judgments are forgotten quickly by strangers, many times within the span of a single second. This can ease the pain of persecution a little. Still, your mind will wander and you will cyclically analyze for an hour after the fact what the dude with the tattoo who nodded his head at you thought about the way you looked and how you acted.

You will have to forget your friends, your brothers, your parents and everyone that has ever said more than a few words to you. Missing persons cases are extremely common and if you leave for good, without explanation, people will wonder, but soon, you will be just a passing thought. You will be something they think about when they go to bed at night but they will carry on with their days, and do the things they have to do, and you will be little more than a mark on their life that they remember fondly, but have given up.

If you must, you can change your name to something like Vance or Moonstar and carry on with your life without a trace of recognition from your former identity. You don’t have to have a last name either. Really, if you’re resourceful enough you will find a way to make money without a social security number.

Last but not least, you will need to find the strength within yourself to forego the temptation of ever reaching out to your loved ones ever again. You are gone. You disappeared and you are no longer a part of their lives. Your new life will be lonely and solemn and you may start to lose your edge and start to think things that aren’t entirely true but you will be anonymous and your life will have meaning as something that you defined for yourself.

You will wonder if it was worth it and you will want someone, anyone to talk to but you will ultimately refrain because being vulnerable is risking too much.

Good luck and God speed. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Jochen Spalding

More From Thought Catalog