For most people, running away has at some point been a fantasy, if only for a moment. The concept of disappearing into thin air has become slightly more, uh, complicated, though, with rise of the internet... until now. Here's how to delete yourself from the internet (or mostly, anyway) because, hey, it's about to be 2017 and who the hell knows anymore.
That's why this handy little app exists: Called Deseat.me, from Swedish developers Wille Dahlbo and Linus Unnebäck, it's dedicated to "cleaning up your existence." Provide your Google login (which, heads up, means you're granting the app permission to scan all your emails — just FYI), and Deseat.me will generate a list of every app, website and whatever else there is connected to your email address.
As nice as it would be to simply click one "Detonate" button, deleting your digital footprint takes a bit more time. For each account, you'll be given the option to "Add to delete queue" or "Keep." Because Deseat.me is relatively new, they're still working out the kinks when it comes to more obscure unsubscribe links. That hair salon newsletter you've never quite figured out how to escape? There's a chance Deseat.me hasn't, either. If that's the case, the "delete queue" button will be grayed out.
If news of Deseat.me has you really amped up, here are some additional ways to delete yourself from the internet. What a time to be alive.
Yes, I know, this seems like a very juvenile suggestion (if the last time you really Googled yourself was in middle school, you are not alone), but it's a great start in getting a grasp on how wide a net your ~digital self~ casts. Be warned, though, that there might be some weird or unpleasant things out there. As a writer, I probably have a higher percentage of those really fun little discoveries to make, but almost everyone has something. If it helps, make a checklist of the things you'd like to scrub from the world wide web's memory. Give yourself a game plan.
Hop Off The Social Media Platform(s)
If you're serious about decreasing your online presence, the easiest way to do so is by deleting or deactivating your social media accounts. Most accounts come with a straight-up deactivation option — as in, log back in whenever and you're back in action — but Facebook does allow users to request a permanent deletion. It takes up to 90 days to complete. It's a really big deal.
Un! Sub! Scribe!
Is there any greater pleasure than engaging in a mass spam email "Unsubscribe"? Most non-personal emails come with a built-in unsubscribe link. Look at the very top of the email or in the footer at the bottom. They're usually in very small print, but they're there, I promise.
Clean Up Your Phone
Get rid of apps you don't use! Clean out your photos! Delete old texts! Take a look at your iCloud account! Monitor your WiFi usage! Don't use geotags! BE Ron Swanson!
Honestly, though, you should do most of this stuff anyway. Your sweet, hardworking li'l cellular device will thank you.
VPN stands for "virtual private network," and it's used for a number of reasons — sending sensitive communications, protecting your identity, or accessing blocked sites when you're abroad (haiiii, Netflix). If you're someone who's nervous about governmental monitoring of our online selves, you should seriously considering using a VPN. There are a number of services you can sign up for, but PC Mag has compiled a great starter list if you're feeling overwhelmed.
Have A Talk With Your Friends
Not everything out there about us was put there by us. If you're really serious about maintaining as low a digital profile as possible, you'll probably need to have a talk with your friends about posting information about you — whether that's photos, videos, or an anecdote about the time you tripped over your own clogs and fell down a hill.
Godspeed, my friends. May your deletion be as satisfying as you hope it will be.