You do not exist. Now what?

 

Hi friends!

Welcome back to another What if Wednesday!

I may have mentioned previously that I started a book club. Our most recent book inspired some lively discussion on the overlapping topics of money and vulnerability. Side note: 20 points to anyone who correctly guesses the book (also a show!) that inspired this week’s post! :)

None of us want to think that our money could be vulnerable to attack or theft. We all take great pains to protect what we have. And we take every opportunity to add bulk to the coffers whenever we can.

Additionally, we all place a whole lot of faith in the virtual systems that gird our society. Everything from banking to medical records, social security, and social media is largely online. Sure, there are backups in case the power goes out, or the system goes down temporarily. But even the backups and failsafes are not always 100% immune to attack or damage.

So here is the question: What if you checked your bank account right this minute and found a $0 balance? Unless you really are broke, you’d assume it was a mistake. What if you tried to log into your social media to #tweetaboutit but suddenly none of your apps recognized your username? …What if every online imprint of you was somehow simply gone?

The setup:

  1. You have just discovered that all your money is gone.Everything in the bank… everything you invested in stocks, bonds, CD’s, Roth IRAs, 401Ks, etc,… vanished. Into thin air.
  2. Your keycard does not allow you access to your work building. You call IT and HR, but there is no record of you having ever worked there.
  3. The electricity, internet, and water to your house is shut off because the companies have no record of you.
  4. Your cellphone stops working…the carrier has no record of you.
  5. You ask your tech-savvy friend for help. After doing some intensive digging, he says he can find ZERO trace of you ANYWHERE.
  6. You have been wiped from every database. Your social security, credit score, government records, taxes… even your social media accounts have been deleted.
  7. You do not exist.
  8. Now what?

Every time I read a book or watch a movie with a similar “you’ve been wiped” premise, it always gives me pause. Could something like this really happen?

 

 

First, can we give props to the tech-savvy friend for a sec? I mean this person is in every movie. You know the one character that tends to be surrounded by computer monitors, and somehow always able to do internet-magic with a keystroke. Without fail, character can hack into the most protected database in a split second. We all need a friend like this in our lives for precisely this moment.

Right. Back to the premise…

So, for the sake of this thought experiment, let’s just say that this really did happen. Let’s say that a sinister virus erased all trace of me RIGHT THIS SECOND.

My initial thought is that it would suck to lose everything. Even if I brought my birth certificate, passport, and social security card, the bank probably wouldn’t be handing over any money if they can’t corroborate that I exist. It’s more likely that they’d have me arrested for trying to steal money with forged documents. So in this scenario, I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to get my money back.

It would also certainly be unsettling that there are no tax records of me, not even with the IRS! Sure I have copies of all my tax documents, but would anyone in the government believe a random chick with printouts? We all know how undocumented immigrants get treated in this country. And it’s only getting worse. No one is exactly rolling out the welcome mat. So yeah, rather than try to convince government officials that I’m actually a law-abiding citizen, I’d probably try to figure things out on my own.

Upon further thought, I have realized that there are some pretty great upsides to this… after all, erasing all my assets also means erasing all my debts, right? And hey, I wouldn’t mind saying byebye to that mortgage! Plus, if my social security number vanishes and the IRS doesn’t have record of me, that might also mean byebye taxes. One less thing to do every year.

I’d run into a pretty big kink with income though. Not having record of existence means not being able to continue working at my current job. Even if I tried to convince HR that I’m actually an employee, they would need to have my social security number, etc, which we all know has been wiped. Gah! So I might as well say goodbye to my job.

I’d probably need to find an employer that doesn’t require any documentation, and is willing to pay me in cold hard cash (I wouldn’t have a bank account, remember?). I don’t know any reputable employers that would be cool with this situation, but you never know. Or maybe I’d have to do stuff like walk dogs or mow my neighbors’ lawns. I think I could be down with this. I love dogs. And mowing could be fun…? I’d figure it out.

In thinking about this scenario, it’s funny how non-scary it suddenly becomes. Not at all like the movies, amiright? Characters in books/movies that find themselves in similar situations tend to also have something dire going on at the same time… like trying to save the world from a ticking bomb, or desperately searching for the villain who threatens humanity. I don’t have any of these earth shattering issues to resolve, so if I were to “get wiped,” I don’t think I would freak out too badly.

 

 

I mean, I would be mad that my money disappeared. But it’s not like I’ve got billions sitting in a Swiss bank account. And once I took a beat and remembered that my mortgage was gone too, I’d chill out real quick.

What about you?

Check out other posts! Like this one on time travel! Or this one about how our habits follow us! And this one on how I track my running mileage!

How would you react if you suddenly “got wiped”? Any guesses as to what book/show inspired this post? :) 

133 thoughts on “You do not exist. Now what?

  1. On one hand it would suck to lose everything in all bank accounts but then I’d do a little happy dance that my student loans were gone too hehe. I honestly don’t know what I would do!

    This book/show sounds interesting but I have no clue what it is.

  2. No more mortgage, Yay! Still a bit scary though to think we are suddenly invisible to the rest of the world. Love this post. I enjoy reading you very much.

    1. Being invisible to the rest of the world would have its own set of issues, for sure. But having the debts cancelled would be pretty great. Thanks for reading, I appreciate it! Enjoy the rest of your day! :)

  3. I think this type of thing is scary because it really can happen! And yeah, how come you never hear stories of someone logging in to make a student loan payment and finding no record of an account?! ;D

    1. hahaha RIGHT!?? that is definitely one case where i’d be perfectly fine with my records disappearing lol :D

    1. Yes, i woudn’t mind saying goodbye to those either, or the mortgage haha. Thank you! I hope you have an amazing week! :)

    1. It sure would! No, not Hamilton — but good guess! I actually haven’t seen Hamilton yet, it’s on the wish list :) I hope you have an amazing afternoon!

  4. Ahhh, love this post! I got my first mortgage last year so I wouldn’t mind that disppearing! I would regret not spending my money before it all disappeared- hindsight is a wonderful thing haha 🙂

    1. it really is! haha yes it would be handy to know an exact time and date of the “wipe” so that we can spend all our money beforehand :)

  5. I have so much debt right now (mortgage, cars, medical bills) that I would totally be okay with that part! This is such an interesting post!!

    1. I think a lot of people would agree with you on that Amber! Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening! :)

    1. Makes for an interesting thought experiment! Thanks for stopping by Temeka! Enjoy the rest of your day! 😁

  6. For me, it would suck to lose everything like this because I have a son and a husband to depend on me to be there, ya know? But on the other hand, to truly disappear? If my son and husband weren’t in the picture, that would be so truly freeing!

  7. Very interesting premise for a book / show – I’d love to know what it is for sure :) I think it would be incredibly stressful to have everything wiped and I don’t know how I would survive!

    1. I can totally see how it could be stressful to have everything wiped. Thanks Cassie, enjoy the rest of your day! 😊

  8. It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? What if it happened? I would probably panic at first especially since I have a lot to lose. But then again, the possibilities to start over are endless!

    1. That’s very true Carol! The possibilities really are endless! Thanks for stopping by, i hope you’re having a lovely week so far! 😊

  9. This is an interesting concept. I feel it’s the elephant in the room and that not many think about it. I would have no clue where to begin.

  10. I think I would definitely have a small panic. I could not imagine not having a trace of myself but then again wouldn’t that be nice sometimes?

  11. I wouldn’t mind having all the photos of me wearing ridiculous costumes at themed parties when i was 17-21 years old wiped from the internet…
    And what book/show is this from? I think I would love it, and i KNOW my brother and his wife would love it! they love technological adventures!

    1. Lol Kerri, I’m with you on that! I have a few too many unflattering photos floating around the cyber space! The book that inspired the initial conversation was Handmaid’s Tale! 😁

  12. Haha! Dawn! You wouldn’t freak out too badly!? Yeah you don’t have to pay a mortgage, but you won’t have a house then either…no ss number, no house, no job…working for cold hard cash making most likely below minimum wage…sounds like you’re describing a homeless person (not exactly what I personally aspire to). Reading this made me immediately think “Oh my gosh, I need to get insurance against identity theft”! But then again…in this scenerio that would mysteriously vanish as well. I read your comment about the Handmaid’s Tale!!! While I haven’t read the book, I completely binge watched the show on Hulu this summer, and I can’t stop thinking about it. So happy they won Emmy’s, it’s so well done they totally deserve it.

    1. Lol, I just re-read this and think it came off a bit harsh, just to clarify, I enjoyed reading this and your statements really made me laugh! :D

      1. Thanks Amber, I’m glad you enjoyed it! :) It was a fun thought experiment and really got me thinking lol. I haven’t seen Handmaid Tale yet (LOVED the book though!) – it is on my watch list! I saw that they did well at the Emmys too, which makes me even MORE excited to watch the show! Thanks Amber, I hope you have an amazing day! :)

  13. This post gave me anxiety over the possibility of being erased, and the desire to read Handmaid’s Tale! It’s crazy how much we rely on technology.

    1. It really is crazy how dependent we are on technology! Thanks for stopping by! I hope your week is going well so far! :)

  14. Honestly, even though I wouldn’t have to pay for anything because of this, I would freak out beyond belief. Most of my anxieties come from existentialism, so this is certainly not my cup of tea, lol. Glad I found your blog though, you sound like you have interesting content!

    1. Yeah I can see how this would be quite anxiety provoking, sorry about that! But I’m glad you stopped by too, and I hope you have an AMAZING day! :)

    1. It’s crazy how vulnerable we are, and how much we rely on technology. Thanks for stopping by Sarah, I hope you have an awesome day! :)

  15. What a great thought provoking question! I’ve seen the movies too and It always brought about the what if’s. That’s a scary situation to be in and honestly I don’t know what I’d do.

    1. I know what you mean Brandi! it’s interesting to think about in the hypothetical… but who knows how we’d react if it were to happen for real! Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have a lovely rest of the day! :)

  16. I would be devastated. I don’t even know who I would call first or how in would act. I would hope my bank could fix the glitch and in a timely manner. I have not seen the Handmaids Tale as everyone else stated that was the movie.

    1. Hi Rose! Yes Handmaid’s Tale is the book (also a show, but I haven’t seen it) that sparked the original conversation leading to this post. It’s certainly a disturbing premise that would be very disruptive to “normal” life! Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have a wonderful evening Rose! :)

  17. Giving me a little anxiety just reading!! I cant imagine finding out my bank accounts were wiped out but I would love for someone to steal my debts LOL

  18. It sounds sooo scary! Safety everywhere has been reinforced but our digital presence could be our doom. I can’t imagine my bank account being completely emptied!

    1. It would be a pretty intense experience, wouldn’t it. Yes we are quite vulnerable in that we rely so heavily on digital technology. Thanks Corinne and Kristy, I hope you enjoy the rest of your day!

  19. I like your blog series on this! It’s definitely something to think about! Not existing and that would be an intense experience if I known that I was existing at one point. Plus my kids would probably disappear and that would be horrific to find out.

    1. I’m glad you like this series! It’s been a ton of fun to do these thought experiments. It’s intriguing to think about different scenarios! Thanks Katriza, I hope you have a fantastic evening! :)

  20. If this situation happened to me, I would be seriously freaking out!!! I agree, when you think of scenarios like this it’s haunting. You start wondering, could this really happen to someone?

  21. Bye bye student loans! My husband is the breadwinner, so all we’d be out is my child care benefit when it comes to income. Would make off-grid homesteading much easier in some respects, lol.

    1. Yes Rheagan! Bye bye loans indeed! I could totally see how off-grid life would be easier in some aspects! Thanks for stopping by, enjoy the rest of your week! 😊

    1. True, the more we rely on the web, the more vulnerable we are to this sort of thing. I would not want to lose my degrees either. Thanks Jenny, i hope you are enjoying your day!

  22. mmmm…. call mum and dad i guess! i wont panic because i believe that there will be an explanation and panicking won’t help anyway

  23. Some people are facing the loss all their documents, bank accounts and everything they own and have start over. By no stretch of the imagination could that be an easy situation to face. Victims of hurricanes Irma and Maria for instance are currently experiencing the reality of which you speak. One cannot even fathom the tremendous sense of loss felt by the people in Texas, Miami and Puerto Rico, Dominica, Barbuda and people in other countries similarly affected by crisis and subsequent loss.fo

    1. This is true, Ingrid, you’re so right that there are people today who have lost their homes and everything they own due to natural disasters. I can’t imagine what they must have to do to come back from such tragedy. I really appreciate your stopping by, and hope you have a wonderful week.

  24. Oh yikes, this would be terrifying at first. I’m not sure what I’d do. Start fresh? Try to figure out what happened? I just don’t know.

    1. It’s a hard one! I agree it would be petty scary to discover something like this. Thanks Amber, i hope you have a lovely evening!

  25. I loved this post so much! I had never considered what my life would be like if that happened. I think it would be incredibly difficult to start again as so much of our life is dependent on our records and reputation. For example, your ability to get a loan is dependent on your financial history, getting a job relies on your reputation at previous workplaces. To have none of that to rely on would make life IMPOSSIBLE!!

    1. You are so right, Chloe! Having no record of your existence would hugely limit any opportunities you could pursue! It would be practically impossible to do even the simplest things that we take for granted… like getting a grocery discount card because you need an email address to even sign up! Thanks Chloe, have an amazing week!

  26. The Handmaid’s Tale totally freaked me out when I read it years ago, and I couldn’t even bear to watch the series on TV. This is such a terrifying thought – and it actually feels more and more possible with the craziness going on in our country right now.

    1. I agree, i feel more vulnerable with all that is going on in the country right now, and around the world! Thanks Lois, i hope you have a wonderful night!

    1. I’m sure you’re right! It’s probably not too far fetched. Thanks for stopping by Nikki, enjoy the rest of your Friday!

  27. I couldn’t imagine this. With no records means probably no freedom to be what I want. In Australia it seems so hard to do anything without Id. I think it would of be easier for past generations to reinvent or maybe I just don’t know about how to be shady.

    1. You’re right, it would be much harder to do anything at all without a valid ID! Thanks for stopping by Vanessa, i hope you have an amazing day!

    1. I completely agree with you! It would be scary at first but then I’d be glad about the debts disappearing! Thanks for stopping by, enjoy your weekend!

  28. Being no one or invisible is really hard. But it has perks as well. You get to do what you want without thinking of the repercusions of your actions.

  29. If I woke up one morning completely wiped, I’d probably be confused then a bit angry. But in the end I’d be happy. I could go off the grid & live without technology!

    1. I think i would react the same way, and do exactly that too! Thanks Chrissy, i hope you have an amazing day!

  30. This is certainly a thought-provoking post! And really quite terrifying. Although, as you say, it does also have the potential to be strangely liberating! Reading this on Friday 13th made it a little more unnerving too…..;-)

    1. Haha Louise, you’re so right, this Friday the 13th seems strangely fitting for this kind of post! Thanks, and i hope you have a lovely day!

    1. It’s definitely not an ideal concept, that’s for sure! Thanks Siti, i hope you are enjoying your day!

  31. For me I wouldn’t mind having my student loan debt wiped clean. But I do think that there would be major problems. The world is too interconnected such that when you need anything if you don’t have record of your existence you might start to have some major problems.

    1. Very true, it might be fantastic in the short term to have debts cancelled, but there would likely be other issues that come up due to not having a valid ID or any other record of existence! Thanks David, I hope you have an amazing weekend!

  32. Ooooh lots to think about. I have a pretty thriving business that I love. Losing that would be TOUGH. AT the same time, I would LOVE to live off the grid, grow and raise my own food, create amazing dishes, homeschool my kids…. A fresh start and simple life sound amazing.

    1. It would be hard to lose your own business! But yes I can definitely see how a simple, off-grid life has its appeal! Thanks Marian, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  33. interesting but a little scary since we are now overly dependent to technology. I couldn’t imagine losing everything, but I like the idea of our debt will disappear 😜

    1. I completely agree – it would be disconcerting for something like this to happen. the silver lining would definitely be saying goodbye to the debts!

  34. “You’ve been wiped” – That’s scary ;) But I won’t mind if my mortgage is wiped and there are no records. I would love to be a part of a book club, I need to check that out :)

    1. I wouldn’t mind that either! Yes book clubs are so fun for book-lovers! Thanks for dropping by Mayuri, i hope you have a lovely weekend! 😊

  35. With technology being so unreliable at times, it may happen! That’s why I don’t try to rely on it too much especially keeping confidential information and keep with me hard copies of documents but thinking about it , it truly is scary since we pretty much can’t do anything anymore :(

    1. I agree, this scenario might not be all that far fetched. Thanks for stopping by Steph, i hope you have a lovely day.

    1. That’s probably true, there’s a chance that living off-grid could get lonely over time. Thanks for stopping by Kelly, i hope you have an amazing weekend!

  36. This reminds me of the movie scenes when you are dead and no body can see you but you are able to see them. Sounds horrifying to me!

  37. I can’t let my identity disappear just like that. But if this ever happens to me, I will sit down on a couch and think of a plan to solve this crazy problem.

    1. That sounds like a good plan to me! Thanks for stopping by Ruth! I hope your week is off to a great start! 😊

    1. It would be pretty bad if you don’t have loans! You’re in a great financial spot though, if you don’t have loans 😀 thanks Jessica, i hope you have an amazing day!

  38. All of your info is super helpful and definitely gives me a lot to think about. I probably need to be more careful… this would be awful!

    1. I’m glad this is thought-provoking! It got my wheels churning too. Thanks Jill, i hope you enjoy your day!

    1. It’s a pretty wild thought, isn’t it! I’m glad it provoked some thought! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read, Deryn, I hope you have an awesome day!

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