Who wants to live forever? Some people don’t get a choice… and it looks like you’re one of them. Being “blessed” with immortality comes with all kinds of crazy problems that normal people wouldn’t have to deal with. Like making you a local curiosity, at best, or being studied, poked and prodded (or worse) by scientists who want to find out just how you’ve done it at worst. If you’re lucky enough to have been granted eternal youth as well, then people are going to catch on sooner or later. If not, well, you have a whole basket of other problems to worry about…
No, what’s best for you is to take this secret to your grave–so to speak, anyway. And to help you with that, here are 4 potential options to help you keep out of the public eye and live a quiet, normal (if exceedingly long) life.
4. Become a Hermit
Of course, the most obvious option for keeping your everlasting life a secret is to avoid other people as much as you can. If there’s no one around, no one can find out, right? Depending on how exactly you acquired your immortality, this may have been forced upon you already, but if not it’s worth considering. Humans don’t really need that much to survive, and particularly old immortals are probably experienced with the hunter-gatherer lifestyle already, so it’s not likely to be a difficult life. On the other hand, the need for companionship is a strong one, and people do kind of start to lose it once they’ve been by themselves for too long. If you’re lucky, the occasional trip into a nearby town or village shouldn’t draw too much attention, only resulting in farfetched legends that are passed down over the years. There’s also the encroaching civilization to worry about; as time goes on, there will be less and less nature to hide out in. Maybe you can catch a rocket to the stars like Ashildr?
3. Change Identities
A more common choice is simply to change your name every generation or so. The idea is simple: fake your own death before people grow suspicious of your youthful appearance, then set up a new life and a new identity somewhere else, where no one can recognize you. You’ll probably get pretty good at it, going through hundreds of names and lives over time. After all, the people around you, your friends and even loved ones, are but as mayflies in comparison; what differences does it make if you disappear a few years earlier than they would have lasted anyway?
As technology marches on, this is becoming more difficult to pull off as well. Once photography was invented, the risk of being recognized in some picture from the past emerged, and it’s only growing with the ubiquity of cameras in modern life. This is how Rose learned more about the Doctor, remember, and he only hops from event to event. You’ve got every minute of every day to worry about. There’s also a ton of documentation and appearances to keep up with now; Social Security numbers, birth certificates, work and medical history, social media profiles… you’d have to start building up several identities at once just so that you’ll have them ready when the time comes. Keeping your immortality hidden is a full time job itself.
2. Change Your Appearance
Progress won’t always hurt your ability to conceal yourself, however. One possibility that’s emerged only relatively recently in your eternal life is to change your appearance. Hair dye, colored contacts, plastic surgery and even tanning can provide the kinds of changes you need to render yourself unrecognizable to those who knew you under a previous identity. A particularly dedicated immortal might even consider transitioning to another gender as a security measure. Keeping on top of fashion and trends might be useful as well; who’d suspect the perky Goth girl of having lived three thousand years? Increasing technology might allow for further, more radical changes, too. Who knows? You may reach the singularity and transhumanism, when almost everyone is customized, unique, and immortal like you.
But lots of these things do come with risks–every surgery creates scar tissue that may not heal. Tanning to darken your skin increases the odds of skin cancer, which may not kill you but would be excruciating to deal with forever. And let’s face it, you’re already at a higher risk than the rest of the planet as it is. I don’t think anyone envies Deadpool or his form of immortality.
1. Avoid History
By far the number one way that those with immortality wind up getting discovered is by appearing in the history books. It often seems like they can’t help but get involved in major events; while one might argue that over a long enough time it’d be inevitable, that doesn’t change the danger it creates. Whether you once went by Brahms or Da Vinci, or laid claim to the title of Jesus Christ, this kind of thing leaves you nothing but trouble. It’s easy to say “stay out of history’s way” when you’re looking back, of course, but there are some obvious guidelines to stick to. Don’t run for public office or seek power. Revolutions and uprisings are definitely to be avoided. It’d be best to keep your distance from major political and cultural movements in general, like the Civil Rights movement or anti-war movements in the 1960’s. Try to live in the most stable regions of the planet you can find.
If you are found out, then you’re almost certainly stuck forever, because the discovery of an undying human would be world-altering. Not just for biology, but also their unique perspectives on history and anthropology. The culture of the planet is irrevocably changed as you take the place of such legendary immortals as Methuselah in the public lexicon. There can be no going back; should the world find a way to replicate your abilities, then great! You won’t be alone in your fate anymore. But if not, you could be in for a very, very long and unpleasant time. Perhaps the robotic revolt can save you?
That’s all for this week. Any advice you’d like to pseudonymously give your fellow immortals? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter @RetroPhaseShift. You can like the new Facebook page to keep up with the site, too, or if you’re interested in more of my writing feel free to check out my book, The Arcology, now available on Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace, and elsewhere!