The Man Without Qualities

You can leave your spouse, sell the townhouse, and pack the kids off to Andover. But the truly radical move is to give up your identity.

Begin your new life of anonymity by filing an action with the New York Lower Civil Court to change your name to Michael or Emily—the most common newborn names in the city—and then pick a Googleproof surname like Smith.

Convert your financial holdings to cash—the anonymous consumer’s best friend. Carrying a big wad will help in the search for hassle-free housing: “Pay a year’s rent up front,” says one broker, if you want a landlord who won’t ask questions—or find an illegal sublet.

Then incorporate yourself. Companies are not required to reveal the names of their officers (except on tax returns and when opening a bank account). So, under the guise of, say, Musil Holdings, you could rent property, apply for business credit cards, and order phone service. Or you might prefer a prepaid cell, like the super-cool Audiovox Flasher V7 cameraphone ($170 from Virgin Mobile)—without a contract, your name’s not attached to the phone.

Of course, you’ll still want to use the Internet, so pick up a connection at a public wireless hot spot, like Bryant Park. Or sign up for’s AnonDSL, which will hide your downloads from the prying eyes of the RIAA. The trick? Bway doesn’t keep records on AnonDSL customers. “Even if the Feds come with guns in their hands,” says director of marketing Joe Plotkin, “we have nothing to reveal.”

The Man Without Qualities