The complete essay, “Vanishing Point: How to disappear in America without a trace,” contains some of the most amusing paranoid delusional crap we’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, some of it criminal in nature, but it speaks to the lengths one might have to go to “live off the grid” as it were, in modern America.
There is the possibility that in the future people may be identifiable by their purchasing habits. Granted the point-of-sale data collected by computers would need to be immense yet eventually pattern-recognition software may some day be able to provide authorities with perhaps 100 of the best possible “hits” on people matching your known buying habits. When — if ever — that becomes a reality, you can be sure you won’t know about it until it’s shown on cable television. By that time the technology will have been in use for years and you may end up on a list of possible matching a purchase profile.
It used to be that living as part of civilization was sort of a nebulous social contract. Now, for better or for worse, it’s enforced by a hard-wired system of identification tools and rituals.