How to escape society: a 12-step guide

Tap, tap, tap.

 “What do you say we break out of here? I found a crack in the ceiling of the cell.

I have a plan, and people who can meet us on the other side.

What do you say?”

How to escape society: a 12-step guide

1) Consider your options

If you want to escape society you need to work out what options you have.

There are five main ways to escape society:

  • Physically
  • Financially
  • Ideologically
  • Relationally
  • Professionally

The idea of escaping society may have been weighing on your mind for some time now. That’s why you should be sure about precisely how and why you want to escape it.

All the aspects of escape are connected, after all you can’t physically leave your society if you don’t have money, and you can’t ditch toxic work relationships you have to stay in your job to get the money to physically leave.

But the point is that you should think about the various ways of escaping society and what they mean to you.

Physically escaping society is one thing, changing your mentality, financial situation, work format and relationships away from society’s molds is something else entirely.

2) Why exactly do you want to leave society behind?

 There are plenty of reasons to feel let-down and unengaged in modern society. I wrote about a number of them here in my recent article “I don’t want to participate in society.”

In this article I was brutally honest about the reason I don’t feel included or engaged in modern society and why I more or less want out of it.

I also acknowledged some drawbacks and issues I have with completely leaving society behind.

I encourage you to also think about what leaving society means to you and what’s motivating you to that decision.

Think about whether one big change – such as career or your social life – would make “society” more tolerable for you…

Or is there something else more fundamental such as the system itself, an ideology, crackdowns on basic liberties or so on which is making your society no longer an option for you?

“Your objectives should drive your decision-making process, not the other way around,” notes Marlowe.

“Depending upon your ‘why,’ you might be better off pursuing a different option than one as radical as leaving society behind for life on a remote homestead.”

3) Execute a forward escape

If you’re in a situation where your society has become a danger to you or actually caused you to physically fear for your safety, you may have to consider which way you want to exit.

Many people escape from societies which have become intolerable by doing what’s called a backward escape.

This basically involves hiding from the problem by drinking a lot, doing drugs or numbing themselves with a lot of screen time and indulgence.

This is a way to try to escape from society and its problems while still being deeply enmeshed and complicit in it.

A second category of people often try to physically escape their own society when it has become too much to bear, seeking out safer or more fulfilling shores where they feel more at home.

This, of course, is hard for many people to do and can often degrades if the new location also slides into tyranny or collapse.

A forward escape, by contrast, involves ideas discussed by the philosopher Hannah Arendt: it involves non-compliance and civil disobedience to aspects of society which you consider evil or which are harming you or others.

The Academy of Ideas Explains more about what a forward escape is here:

4) Empower yourself

Many people try to escape society by physically leaving it for a new society or for the freedom of the forests and fields.

They may go off-grid or move to less developed countries where they feel more free or empowered.

That’s certainly one option you can consider.

The problem is that you can’t escape society physically or mentally if you’re dependent on outer factors going your way.

So what can you do to become strong enough to truly leave the kind of society behind which you hate?

Begin with yourself.

Stop searching for external fixes to sort out your life, deep down, you know this isn’t working.

And that’s because until you look within and unleash your personal power, you’ll never find the satisfaction and fulfillment you’re searching for.

I learned this from the shaman Rudá Iandê. His life mission is to help people restore balance to their lives and unlock their creativity and potential. He has an incredible approach that combines ancient shamanic techniques with a modern-day twist.

In his excellent free video, Rudá explains effective methods to achieve what you want in life and escape society.

So if you want to build a better relationship with yourself, unlock your endless potential, and put passion at the heart of everything you do, start now by checking out his genuine advice.

Here’s a link to the free video again.

5) Focus on building

It’s tempting to look at a negative society as something you want to break down or fight against.

But the truth is that you’ll be much better off if you focus on constructing instead of deconstructing.

Building a parallel society is not an abstract idea.

It means literally creating new organizations, ideologies, opportunities, educational systems, economic models and institutions.

A parallel society may exist within the bigger society, but like the Amish it also acts and lives very differently to the mainstream society.

As the Academy of Ideas explains:

“The construction of a parallel society, however, is not merely a long-term solution to totalitarian destruction, but also serves to counter the rise of totalitarian rule.

“For the act of building parallel social structures reveals that not everyone will just roll over and submit to total state control…”

6) Do a trial run

If you’re planning to physically leave society and separate out your assets and way of life, try it out first.

Packing up all your stuff in an old pickup and hitting the road with your family or escape buddy is one way to do it.

But it often ends with a lot of money wasted on gas station beef jerky and overpriced nights in a roadside motel somewhere as you figure out where exactly you are.

Get your plan worked out and then try it out first.

Try a week or a month and see how it goes.

Do you spend more than you expected or have a harder time getting food?

What about the weather, the access to basic services or your general mood? Are you doing ok away from the trappings of society or are you feeling pretty lost?

Get a bearing on how it goes before you completely commit.

Like WikiHow says:

“Drop out for a month or a season to try it out. Before you quit your job and pack up to live in the woods for good, do it for a trial period.

“This will give you time and experience to evaluate if this is really the right decision.”

7) How will you make a living?

pexels armagan basaran 9948307 1 How to escape society: a 12-step guide

On a related note, before escaping society in any way you need to think about the fundamental aspect of how you’ll put food in your body and get a roof over your head.

If you have a nice inheritance to use and savings then this point is moot.

But if you’re struggling along trying to make ends meet you’re going to need a financial plan.

Your financial plan may be to start a homestead in rural Idaho and grow your own food while running off a generator. It could work out for you.

Or you might head to Tasmania and raise sheep that you use for wool and mutton.

The point is that even if you plan to start a barter system and decouple from the financial system, you’re going to need a realistic assessment of how that bartering might work out for you.

It’s not easy to make a living, and even if you have fascinating ideas for how to leave the old system of credit cards behind, you need to make sure it’s going to actually work.

Maybe you have a cryptocurrency nest egg, for example…

A lot of American cryptocurrency millionaires are currently heading to Puerto Rico and building beautiful houses on the coast.

They have worked out how to stay in the US while also enjoying a more remote life off the grid but still living in luxury.

Would this be a meaningful life for you or not what you’re looking for?

Would it provide the kind of financial situation you can work with?

8) Know yourself

If you escape society only to live up to your idea of what someone who escapes society should look like, dress like, behave like, work like and care about…

You haven’t escaped society.

You’ve just slotted yourself into a new, slightly more niche society.

Patrice Laliberté’s 2020 film the Decline (Jusqu’au déclin) is an excellent look at a group of survivalists who train for the end of the world only to turn on each other in paranoia and hate.

It’s a great look at how not knowing enough about your own motivations and those around you can lead to blindness about what you’re really getting yourself into.

When you try to live up to what you think others expect of you, you just crunch yourself down into another stereotype that always nods when the right narrative comes up.

You have to be your own person if you want to ever be truly free of only obeying an outer system, and that includes having your own rock-solid principles that don’t depend on conforming to the expectations of others.

“Authenticity comes from avoiding others’ opinion of what you should be. That comes from knowing yourself better.

“That comes from not giving a fuck to people who don’t want to see you succeed. That comes from not paying attention to these people.

“That comes from saying ‘No’. That comes from learning to say no. That comes from deciding to learn to say no. That comes from deciding that you deserve better,” notes Arpit Sihra.

9) Be prepared for collapse

On a related note to the Decline and its look at how paranoia can turn in on itself, there are times when it is justified.

Maybe we truly will see a supply chain collapse in Western nations…

A global conflict or economic meltdown…

A civil war or collapse of civil society…

If you want to escape from society, you need to become skilled at proactively removing yourself from the main elements of civilization that you believe pose a danger to you and your loved ones.

For example, many people are currently choosing to move out of large American cities which have high crime rates and would be the first to descend into chaos in the event of a supply chain collapse.

Survivalists spend their lives preparing for the collapse, and if you want to escape society you need to think about it too.

As Tom Marlowe advises:

“Just so we are clear and this article makes sense in the context of other prepping articles, when I say ‘escape society’ I’m not talking about a bug out or an emergency evacuation.

“I’m referring to instead a conscious, voluntary lifestyle change, of moving yourself, your family (if you have one) and all of your affairs way, way outside the bounds of settled civilization.”

10) Society sucks souls

Advanced and developed societies have provided a higher standard of living and longer life expectancy than anything in human history.

The amount of material progress we’ve enjoyed as a species – even poor nations – over the past several centuries is astounding.

We have to ask, then, why a growing number of people want to head for the hills and leave these gleaming metropolises and QR-code-scanning paradises behind?

I believe that the reason is that for far too many people society sucks souls.

 The social fabric isn’t strong enough to keep them invested and they feel a deep lack of meaning, belonging and connection to nature.

They feel that the societal systems are stripping away their humanity, spontaneity, grit and rough edges.

They feel like they are being sanded down into a replaceable, beige robot.

As Juliana Spicoluk and Mark Spicoluk write, their decision to walk away from society was because they were “definitely unhappy” and wanted something new.

As they say:

“We knew there was more to life than Toronto.

More to things than the ego driven rat race we had found ourselves participating in. So we designed, alchemised, and began our escape.

“This journey has been a roller-coaster of extremes. But so far it has been more fulfilling, exciting, & beautiful a ride than we ever believed we could ask for.”

11) Don’t expect a rose garden

One of the top mistakes that people make when they want to escape from society is that they expect some kind of Promised Land.

Then they head out to the wilds or another country and find that life is, well…pretty rough and basic.

Even if you have a lot of money or resources, forging a new life or new way of living isn’t easy for anyone even in our modern times.

It can also lead you into situations where you start to really appreciate the conveniences and emergency services back home.

If you decide to go off grid you can also run into some very basic problems such as getting injured and not knowing who to call.

As the user ColdasBallsinVT writes on Reddit about his attempt to escape society:

“We did this and it was super fun until I shattered my leg getting the mail at the end of our driveway and had no cell service, so had to drag myself back Revenant-style to call an ambulance, only for the ambulance to be unable to make it up our snowy road.

‘Couldn’t really yell for help because there was a mountain lion in the area and I didn’t want to be cat chow.

“So my advice is to go to a warm climate where you’re not one screw-up away from getting killed. There are parts of the US, if that’s where you are, that you can get a rural USDA loan and put no money down on your house.

“Mountains of the Carolinas have nice climates and are inexpensive, for example. Or you could go somewhere awesome like Costa Rica, and if you’re self-employed like most who have that lifestyle, you could live very comfortably.”

12) Carve your own niche

Whether you’re physically removed from society or not, you have the ability to carve your own niche.

You don’t have to watch the same shows, read the same books and eat the same food as everyone around you.

You can live differently and blaze your own trail in life.

This starts in your heart and mind, where you can begin to focus in on the values and beliefs you have that set you apart.

Begin putting them into practice and living the life you envision as much as possible.

You don’t have to live by rules that no longer mean anything to you.

As Michelle Lin writes:

“Of course, you will need to follow some of society’s rules (ex. mannerism, etc.), but the rest of the rules, trends, stereotypes, myths, etc. you can ignore or choose not to follow.

“You can live the life you want by creating your own little box full of your own unique personality traits, beliefs, etc. When the crowd says yes, you can say no and say that you think differently.”

Change yourself, pilgrim

Whether or not you choose to leave society behind on the physical level, doing so will never fully remove you from society as a concept.

Even you alone in nature are part of a society of natural creatures and the cycle of Mother Earth.

There is no perfect place and there will never be a perfect utopia.

We are all subject to time, decay and aging.

This is not to urge complacency or just to go wolf down some McDonalds and buy slave-made sneakers while shrugging your shoulders.

Many things need to be improved and changed!

Leaving society and living life your way is one option, absolutely! (At least for now).

But I want to encourage you to consider the increased power you have to influence society from the inside…

I encourage you to think about how you can change yourself before focusing as much on the external things you can change.

Of course these can often go hand-in-hand: as you change internally you gain more power to make a change externally.

But the first place you have control over and can influence is your own consciousness and how you direct your attention and energy.

As Dhamma Tapasa writes:

“If you want to see a change in the world then it is up to each and everyone of us to change our level of consciousness away from the one that created the mess we are in.”

Now we are ‘free’?

pexels alexandr podvalny 1007858 How to escape society: a 12-step guide

The idea of breaking out of society or living in a way that makes more sense to you is powerful.

But what exactly will it involve?

The idea of being completely “free” has never made sense to me.

Cancer cells are completely free to grow and run and they kill people and destroy life.

Even if you were free of all outer restraints and limits, you’d still be bound by your need for air, water and food, not to mention shelter, community, meaning and physical safety.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is more than just an optional guide.

In my view, unlimited growth and freedom outside society isn’t a dream, it’s a nightmare that would lead to something even worse than society.

My dream isn’t to overthrow society or even to force it to change.

My dream is to help build an alternative.

If you truly want to know how to escape society, start building a parallel society.

The true power for change and a better future isn’t in a bloody revolution, it’s in a gradual shift away from the husks of a type of society that no longer provides a meaningful framework for our lives.

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on and visit his website at

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