What Next in Disappearing?

It has been seven years since the writing of How to Disappear and the pendulum of privacy has swung far past our favor. As they say, the Rubicon has been crossed and there is no return. Such has been revealed from information set forth by WikiLeaks and Snowden.

We went from the simplicity of cleaning computer cookies to discovering the that Television sets can play household spy. This is not a rise of the machine but the fall and failure of human rights. I would like to believe, if not hope that future will be stamped with a guarantee that we the people will maintain what is and should be ours but such a notion is pure silliness if not the border of my ignorance.

I think what is missing in the strategy of disappearing is the identification of one’s personal freedom. One must look beyond the word disappear and realize that this is only an action and freedom is the endgame. Being free is what most of us strive for, be it financial, travel, living abroad or safety from a predator.

In my first book, I promoted the tools of Misinformation, Disinformation, and Reformation. In retrospect, they now seem rudimentary at best. I say this because technology and social media have become extremely aggressive and invasive. The modus operandi for each is identifying our locations and extracting our connections. It is a hunt to take and use what should be rightfully ours. They have changed the strategies of the hunt and so we must change how we disappear.

So what next in disappearing?

Frank M. Ahearn
The Little Black Book of Skip Tracing

Disappearing With Don Quixote

Sometimes, freedom is a moment of being breathless and timeless. Sometimes, freedom is being a part of something and equally apart from something. Freedom is not always at the end of the road or a permanence obtained. Freedom can be a continuous motion in one’s life and gained in bits and pieces. Feeling free can be fleeting but if you are able to stand in its mist you have conquered and you are disappeared!

Last week I was hired to be in a TV commercial and on location I had a ton of time to kill. Most of it was spent under a windmill while the crew shot the Don Quixote scenes. I had this odd moment questioning, what am I doing here in La Mancha, Spain playing a role. The money, the acting, the being part of something larger than myself. Perhaps all, perhaps, none!

There I am covered in paint and looking like Nick Nolte on a crushed powder bender. I am frenetic, angry and I am an playing the artist flailing buckets of paint onto a plexiglass. I am screaming at the top of my lungs as if I am spitting out Pollock’s agony. I am anonymous in the situation, no one knows I am the guy who writes, talks and disappears people. This is the breathless I search for and the timeless I hunt. It is me playing someone else, touching freedom — in mind and physical.

The car ride out of Campo de Criptana was languid, peaceful and occupied by a feeling of letting go. I smiled under the heavy Spanish sun thinking that today, I disappeared with Don Quixote.

Frank M. Ahearn
The Little Black Book of Skip Tracing

The Feeling of Freedom

Over a cup of coffee, a friend of mine tells me there is no real freedom. He quoted philosophers and presented ideas from schools of philosophies and such. Most of it drifted past me and got lost in the stratosphere. The funny part is my friend lives the freest lifestyle out of anyone I know. He is retired, lives in a city he loves, travels extensively, and works at will. What’s not free about that?

I believe that freedom must first happen within and evolve as a personal philosophy, not something you read in a book. Although, when you own your idea there is nothing wrong with creating a code, like that of The Art of War or Machiavelli’s The Prince. Treatises like these are used in daily life and business, so why shouldn’t your freedom be used in the same manner?

It is important not mistake freedom as something bought with money, found off the grid or anonymous in Monaco, these are only external ideas of freedom. What I discovered is becoming free is first finding it within and truly feeling it. If you can touch that feeling you can get what you need to be free.

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of, The Little Black Book of Skip Tracing

How To Be Free

Recently I met with a client in Munich and instead of talking about how to disappear, the conversation was about how to be free. We discussed the differences between liberty, independence, and autonomy –three slices of freedom. This client was different from most, she had a solid idea of what her freedom will be and she recognizes that freedom is the end game. Think of disappearing more as the bus ride out of town and freedom your city. Each strategy we discussed was measured with the idea of, will this make her free?

When I meet clients, and ask what it is they want, all say is they want to disappear. When asked to explain, they use examples like, perpetual traveler, permanent tourist, digital nomad, living off the grid, under the radar, five-flags, and expatriate. All catchy terms with exotic images but these are labels of freedom not necessarily real acts of freedom. Although, if any a digital nomad is probably the closest idea to being free. What I find that lacks in potential clients is, few talk about being free.

Labels can pigeon hole and one core philosophies will impede. There are slew of books about disappearing, being anonymous, hiding from the internet but most are tricks of the trade and not ways of life. Think about what will be your way of life, will being an expatriate in Luxembourg or Nice make you free? Is the five-flag theory real freedom or not? Will your business sustain being a digital nomad. Will the bohemian way of life make you happy? To a degree many of us want to create our own movable feast but that was another person’s life long ago. Think more about how to be free than how to disappear!

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of The Little Black Book of Skip Tracing

The Monaco Yacht Club

There are those of us who are runners! We find it difficult to settle down, to consider one patch of land home. I know this because I am a runner and always been. Standing still can feel like a threat to freedom. Although or perhaps it is simply a Kerouac bug.

Lately, I have been bored with the world of hide & seek. When this happens, only movement can remedy. The thought of that cross-Italy road trip again, or holing up in Chiado for a few days races in my head. I think, how quick, when and let’s bolt! This a freedom and this is a handcuff in one. Traveling is like a drug and I know I must calm myself. I must center myself and not be rash, not let my wants overtake.

Traveling is me escaping the here and now and indulging beyond time. Those who disappeared can never go past the here and now. They cannot respond to The Monaco Yacht Club dream, or the Paris getaway at the Hotel Regina. A disappeared person must remain Zen, must be present and most of all not indulge in the unreal. This is not to say one should not dream but to say one should avoid the impulsive.

Disappearing is not all prepaid credit cards, burner phones, offshore bank accounts and digital deception. Being disappeared is a way of life, a centering of self in the moment and the space currently occupied. All else does not exist. Being a runner and dreaming of The Monaco Yacht Club or The Hotel Regina in Paris takes you away from your discipline. This is a danger in the privacy world. Do not be seduced by what is not in front of you.


The Little Black Book of Skip Tracing

Dreams & Freedoms Change

I have always stated that, not everyone can disappear! There are realities that can prevent a departure, mainly money and much of the time nerve. Dreaming is easy but doing it takes work, planning and boldness. Not everyone who wishes to disappear will disappear. There is a select value in those who pull the rip cord, be it adventurer or seeker of personal freedom. And in many you will discover a salting of desperation. Real freedom is not easy, the road can be solitary, confusing and much of the journey dark. But don’t we all push for the light at the end of the tunnel?

A harsh reality is that dreams and freedoms change, this is no doubt the ways of the world. Those who own prosperity and comfort can lose it all in a political change. Most of my client base is European, however a shift is taking place and Americans who fear are now thinking about disappearing. They are questioning if the freedoms and ideals they knew so well will become obsolete. Even Rome fell!

A few I have spoken with will ride out the storm. Others have a darker picture of the American dream and feel that it does not include themselves. They now seek a place where there is less judgment and more acceptance. There is no promised land but there are ways of existing under the radar and not being part of society. They are becoming Virtual Entities, Digital Nomads and are using technology to serve themselves instead some Mad Caesar!

I stand corrected, anyone can disappear!

The Limited State of Disappearing

As time goes on I am beginning the think that there is no such thing as disappearing. You can go on the run, in hiding, stay under the radar or off the grid but can you truly disappear? If you are somewhere and someone is hunting you, you are not disappeared but in the hunt! For most who have disappeared, it is a limited state of being. If you cannot lay your head on your pillow with absolute surety that you are safe, you are on the run.

I speak with many people who run disappear plans by me and most of them are failure from the get go. Most create a plan based upon a reaction to a current or coming situation. All strategy is about the big picture and should ever be exclusive to the immediate. If you think immediate you will get the immediate pay-off. However, the immediate may not be what is needed to be successful in the future.

Perhaps disappearing should be a state of mind and one should consider themselves perpetually on the run. It is like the idea of freedom, true freedom can only ring in one’s mind because society creates limitations. When there are limitations freedom is hindered. When there is a predator, disappearing will always be a limited state.

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of: The Art of Disappearing: 199 Essential Privacy and Disappearing Tips