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Thread: I used to be famous. How can I become a recluse?

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I used to be famous. How can I become a recluse?

    Let's say that I wrote a very popular comic strip for the past 10 years, about a kid with ADD and his relationship with a stuffed toy that seemingly comes to life only in his presence. Feeling that I ran out of ideas, and that the comic peaked a couple of years ago, I decide to stop writing the comic, and retire. I've got several million dollars to my name, and book deals will ensure I'll get decent royalties for the next couple of decades. I can't live the high life, though, because as time goes by, the royalties will decrease. I really have to live below my means.

    I don't want to be in the limelight, though. I just want to disappear into the woodwork. Mostly total privacy. No interviews. I don't want anyone to know where I live.

    I'm also in the Midwest, and not in Los Angeles or New York, where there are doctors, dentists, and other businesses that offer discreet services to celebrities. I have to use the same services that regular Joes use.

    So, how can I be a recluse?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    It is much easier for Bill Watterson because he wrote a comic strip... and unless you got his book, you wouldn't know what he looks like. For him, moving every couple years, and buying a modest home will keep him in obscurity for a long time. I read somewhere that in the mid-90's they tried to find him in Chagrin Falls and couldn't do it. I think he still lives in that area somewhere.

    Staying away from NYC and LA helps...a lot!
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Great thread idea. Very practical too - this is a problem some of us constantly wrestle with. In chapter 1 of the book "So You Want to be a Recluse" it says:
    They key to anonymity is not to draw attention to oneself. That is, one must exert every effort to blend in with a crowd and in so doing appear unremarkable. Unremarkableness is important, but so too is subtley. Try not to be obvious; few things can mark oneself more than engaging in aberrant behaviors. March in proverbial step with others and one's appearance amongst their fellow man will almost certainly go unnoticed. The most important aspect of this process is to ensure that one's own actions match those of others, or at the very least are not so different that they do not fall outside the realm of what could be considered 'normal' behavior. Normality is a term we hear much about but......
    Okay, I think I understand why that book never made it to the best seller list, but I'm sure it must get better by chapter 2.

    If I were trying to fall off the public radar the first 3 things I'd do is: 1) change my name; 2) change my appearances (e.g. die hair blonde or shave it off); and only then 3) move to a remote location. Yes it has to be remote with as few neighbors as possible. Find a nice rural location with enough acreage (wouldn't need much - just a few acres) to grow one's own food, thereby cutting down on trips to the store.

    Other essential things - never shop in person when it's possible to order things through mail order or on-line. Don't actively associate with any neighbors, but by that same token don't be rude and make enemies either when encountering them.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    Legal name change, then a move to a new location, then Sexual reassignment surgery, and then another move, followed by a legal name change and one more move.

    That should do it.
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  5. #5
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Duke Of Dystopia View post
    Legal name change, then a move to a new location, then Sexual reassignment surgery, and then another move, followed by a legal name change and one more move.

    That should do it.
    Some of the less committed among us might balk at your suggested third step

    Maybe the key is not to fall off the radar, but rather to propel oneself into the limelight differently. Take that Chris Gaines fellow for instance - you don't hear much about him anymore, do you?

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Isn't there public notice for name changes, though? Anyone with Lexis/Nexis could find that my previous name of ... oh, William Walterson, is now Stashew Wojciechowski.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  7. #7
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Isn't there public notice for name changes, though?
    True, but it's still an additional step one would have to go through if one is intent on tracking someone down. And there are also ways to minimize the public notice thing too. One could, for example, rent an apartment or shack in BFE Wyoming to establish residency requirements and post the name change notice in some local paper having a circulation of around 652.

  8. #8
    Staying out of The Plain Dealer would certainly be one way to increase your chances of success.

    You might try moving to Cornish, NH, too, as I hear the locals there enjoyed sending tourists on wild goose chases to help their resident hermit.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    It seems to me that you would be more anonymous in a big city rather than a small town or rural area.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  10. #10
    Cyburbian kw5280's avatar
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    This thread reminded me of an interview I heard with Evan Ratliff on NPR. He's a reporter for Wired magazine and tried to disappear for a month while there was a $5000 reward for the reader who could find him. Here's a link to the article he published about the experience in December.

    http://www.wired.com/vanish/2009/11/ff_vanish2/

    Or if you just want the down and dirty, the NPR interview is at this link.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...ryId=121292553

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    Staying out of The Plain Dealer would certainly be one way to increase your chances of success...
    Sense of humor intact: "Ah, the life of a newspaper cartoonist -- how I miss the groupies, drugs and trashed hotel rooms!"

    When Garrison Keillor decided to end his show (1986) so he could move to Denmark, the local paper published a photo of his front door. I recall seeing an interview where he mentioned life in NYC was relatively anonymous. (He was unlikely to encounter a Mark David Chapman.)

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    How am I doing so far?
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Let's say that I wrote a very popular comic strip for the past 10 years, about a kid with ADD and his relationship with a stuffed toy that seemingly comes to life only in his presence.
    In grade school I knew this Macauluy Culkin-looking shrimp of a kid who had every single Calvin and Hobbes comic book and also had severe anger-management issues. I think he ended up doing hard time for drug-traffking in his early 20s. The clean-cut blonde kid who played Whitey on Leave it to Beaver spent most of his life selling drugs and then overdosed a decade or two or more ago.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

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  14. #14
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kw5280 View post
    This thread reminded me of an interview I heard with Evan Ratliff on NPR. He's a reporter for Wired magazine and tried to disappear for a month while there was a $5000 reward for the reader who could find him. Here's a link to the article he published about the experience in December.

    http://www.wired.com/vanish/2009/11/ff_vanish2/
    Wow. I never heard of this before. Fascinating article!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Move to New Mexico. We specialize in taking in people who are running from something (the law, fame, abusive husband, mom).

    Some people don't even believe we are part of the United States.

    If I were trying to "get lost" I would opt for rural New Mexico or Alaska.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    Wow. I never heard of this before. Fascinating article!
    The frightening part is that he was unable to hide from amateurs trying to find him. The intelligence services aren't amateurs. It makes you realize how important it may be to NEVER come up on their radar and how hard it may be to "disappear" from view.

    No need to really try to disappear if people would leave other people alone just a little bit.
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  17. #17
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    Wow. I never heard of this before. Fascinating article!
    Nice read but he was too tech saavy for the average person. Why go on Twitter if you're trying to hide? Why check the internet at all? This leaves me with more questions than answers!

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    .....Why go on Twitter if you're trying to hide? Why check the internet at all? This leaves me with more questions than answers!
    A) Because it was part of the game. Hiding in a box canyon in Utah really isn't living.

    B) Because most people want some access to the normal things others do around them. Even if you do want to be a recluse. If you didn't get on the internet and use it for something, you would be:
    1. Possibly a uni-bomber like figure (see A above).
    2. Not being normal in cutting off your access to the wider world.
    3. Not access in the net is akin to the aforementioned sexual reasignment to slip away theory.
    4. You would be conspicuous by NOT partaking of the online functions.

    Just my 4 guesses.
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Duke Of Dystopia View post
    The frightening part is that he was unable to hide from amateurs trying to find him. The intelligence services aren't amateurs. It makes you realize how important it may be to NEVER come up on their radar and how hard it may be to "disappear" from view.

    No need to really try to disappear if people would leave other people alone just a little bit.
    As an aside, I have a bit of a reputation for my ability to find long-lost friends via the Internet. It's really not very difficult, although I admit that I'm baffled about the few people I can't find. Did they die? drop off the grid? change their name?

    I once had a friend who didn't want her ex-husband to be able to find her. She got an unlisted number, but I had no problem finding her address and phone number on the Internet... that was a little frightening.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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