Leave everything and disappear. Without telling anyone, without anyone knowing where you’ve gone. Who hasn’t fantasized about that?
There is a long history of voluntary disappearances, both in reality and fiction. It is worth remembering the story of Wakefield, the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story of the same name, who one day leaves his house and disappears for more than 20 years. The funny thing is that he is only one street away from his old house. Then watch the world move on without him. When he returns home, the narrative is interrupted. What comes next is up to the reader’s imagination.
Wakefield’s case is not much different from many real-life scenarios. This phenomenon is especially common today, when “disappearing” has become fashionable.
“Each of us knows (that) we would never commit such folly… and yet we feel that anyone else could do it,” says the narrator of Hawthorne’s story, of the act of disappearing. In contemporary society, the “anyone else” is almost always a young man, who is often seduced by the rhetoric of a self-help guru. The advice usually doesn’t vary, regardless of who says it: “He disappears for six months and returns as an improved version of yourself.”
This challenge is spreading quietly but widely. Just take a look at some posts on X (formerly Twitter) to get an idea of the fundamental principles of this movement. “Why disappear? “Life is overwhelming… it gets better that way,” he says. @HombreReal96 (currently renamed @N0ticiasFutb0ll), who on July 3 published a thread with the following heading: “Disappear for six months to progress 10 years in your life.”
So what do you do when you disappear? Several things. You can read, play sports, go for a walk in the countryside or quit drugs (if you used them in the first place).
Other influencers advocate the practice of “visualizing life for at least 10 minutes a day” or even giving up on most of your friends. Three or four are more than enough, according to @HombreReal96. “You should never trust someone who has too many friends.”
In theory, nothing is needed to disappear except the will to do so. But once you’re gone, you need somewhere else to go. Matt Gray —an entrepreneur and social media influencer— says: “Do not return to who you were, but to what you have become.” Indeed, the desire for transformation embraced by these modern hermits has proven relentless. @male ego (another coach who claims he can change his life and has nearly 240,000 followers) hopes to lead a happy and privileged life when he returns from his gap year. In the meantime, he’ll stop watching porn, wake up at 4:30 in the morning, give up sugar, and trade in his credit cards for cash when he goes out (being officially “missing” doesn’t necessarily mean being stuck at home). ).
Not a few will think that voluntarily disappearing is a matter of rich and privileged. Living without a cell phone, without social networks, without family responsibilities and without having to travel to an office is not within everyone’s reach. Saying goodbye to the world has a price… and a blogger nicknamed RK.KE has calculated what that price is.
The first thing, according to him, is to sacrifice friends and family. To do this, he recommends creating a “rough schedule” and maintaining sobriety. “Getting drunk runs the risk of giving yourself away before you even start,” he warns. After paying all your debts, you must change your name, your wardrobe, your appearance; You must choose, in short, what your new life will be like. When almost all preparations have been made, RK.KE recommends destroying all old documentation. “This won’t make a big difference from a legal point of view, but it will help you psychologically leave your past life behind,” he says. The post concludes with a somewhat bitter reflection on whether it is worth disappearing, since the disappeared person will never again be able to sleep peacefully, due to the fear of being discovered. “Hope it was worth it!” he concludes.
There are those who argue that this movement (which perhaps mixes late capitalism with the Parisian surrealism of the 1920s?) is actually nonsense. “It’s a meme” wrote influencer Charles Millerin a post on
He’s not the only one who has conflicting opinions on the subject. A Reddit thread analyzes the effectiveness of this measure. “I disappeared, reappeared and prepared to disappear again, it really works for me,” says one user. “I did this for about a year. And honestly, keep going. So technically I’m still doing this,” another person confesses. And then there are the less enthusiastic commentators. One user admits that there are dangers in living an extremely social life, but still warns against becoming a hermit: “You don’t have to (give up) something completely to get the other.”
Many of those who now dare to erase themselves from the map are motivated by the idea of recovering a certain idea of masculinity. This is highly desired in certain right-wing online circles: there is a desire to be a strong, virile man, able to take on nature. This narrative is reminiscent of the online incel subculturewhich is made up of men who are “involuntary celibacy” and aspire to overcome their condition by becoming supposed “alpha males.” There is reconstruction… and then there is deconstruction. These men may want to return in a renewed state, but they also want to get rich. They may admire ascetics, but they are also fans of Warren Buffet.
Influencers who have captured this audience tell their fans that they can help them make money. They quote Jordan Peterson; They perpetuate so-called “cryptobro” fantasies, forging a mythology that involves self-commitment, isolation, and growth.
However, this idea of disappearing – only to return – is nothing new. Jesus went into the desert to fast for 40 days and 40 nights. Long before him, in the 6th century BC. C., Prince Siddhārtha Gautama abandoned his life of wealth and withdrew from the world to seek spiritual enlightenment (he became Buddha). Didn’t they disappear, as the challenge indicates, and then return as an improved version of themselves?
This is not the only point in common between the incel-cryptobro community and the traditions of Antiquity. A quick look at the list of best-selling philosophy books on Amazon reveals the extent to which Stoicism has penetrated the minds of many young people, who have discovered the concept mostly through the writings of Marcus Aurelius (his Meditations tops the best-seller list at the time of this article’s publication) or Seneca.
Famous people who have disappeared
The writer Enrique Vila-Matas has dealt extensively with the topic of disappearance in his books. Melville collected several experiences of authors who refused to write (which, in many cases, meant that they effectively disappeared). JD Salinger conveyed this experience through his successful The Catcher in the Rye.
Something similar happened to the famous Spanish writer Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio, who – after winning an important prize in 1956 – decided to lock himself in his house to study grammar and consume amphetamines, fleeing from the “grotesque role of writer.” There are dozens of other literary examples: from Thomas Pynchon —who barely has a photograph of him as a young man— to Patricia Highsmith, who (as she reveals in her diaries) ended up prey to a misanthropic spirit.
At the heart of almost all disappearances is a longing for return. Most men who practice this trend are looking for the exact opposite of being forgotten. Members of this new community hope to return muscular, full of self-confidence… and with a second source of passive income. In no case do temporary Stoics contemplate permanent anonymity. Upon returning, many of them not only feel more empowered, but are willing to pass on the virtues of being ghosts to other men.
Tom Denning, now a successful businessman, was lucky enough to disappear for a while when he was 20 years old. Write about the experience. on his personal blog, where he encourages others to follow his path, “For those who are tired of dragging through the day, who want to recapture the fire they once had, who are ready to reclaim their natural energy… this is your book. ”She says at the end of the post, encouraging readers to buy his work. Disappearing, clearly, is not cheap.
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