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I'm immortal.

Yes, I could give you the secret and also no I won't. Unless...that is...you help me solve a bit of a dilemma I'm facing.

I recently found out that both my wife and I are immortal and can not be killed or permanently injured in any way, shape, or form. It's a bit different however, because we can still get sick or be (temporarily) hurt; I can get any disease/virus/etc. or almost cut my arm off (It never cuts all the way through), but it always gets better. We do not seem to age past 28, so this is going to start looking really weird in a few years. Here lies my issue.

Now I've known for about...let's say 2 years, not really enough time for anyone to notice yet, but soon people will say "You haven't changed a bit". Little do they know right? My problem comes in that our current lifestyle is very comfortable, and it would cause us many more issues if we were to suddenly drop off the face of the Earth.

Our goal is to remain as close to our current lifestyle as possible without needing to relocate and essentially start a whole new life. Our problem is that if we "die" in an accident, the things we've worked so hard to obtain (house, job, cars, college degrees, etc.) would be unavailable to us. So there's the background, and a bit of the question, but let me phrase it a bit differently; my speech can sometimes be hard to understand with the long term planning and all. We're mainly looking to hide it from neighbors, family, and banks/civil companies. The government is aware and doesn't require anything from us (apparently we're not the first...no surprise...).

Note: The question linked as a duplicate explicitly is looking to hide it from the government, and does not feature any sort of physical immortality, both of which are different in my question.

How can we, as immortal beings, retain our existing lifestyles with the least radical changes possible?

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    $\begingroup$ relevant, if not even duplicate worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/29557/30492 $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jul 30 '18 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ I am confused as to how "almost cut my arm off" supports "cannot be killed or injured in any way". $\endgroup$ – MonkeyZeus Jul 30 '18 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ @MonkeyZeus LITERALLY the next sentence says "...we can still get sick or be (temporarily) hurt; I can get any disease/virus/etc. or almost cut my arm off (It never cuts all the way through), but it always gets better.". I'm not sure how much clearer I can make it. $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian Jul 30 '18 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ Compulsory reading - The Boat of a Million Years. $\endgroup$ – DJClayworth Jul 30 '18 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Anoplexian: "I'm not sure how much clearer I can make it" - you say "Cannot be injured in any way" and then immediately afterwards describe a way in which they can be injured "almost cut my arm off". From your previous comment I'm pretty sure they can be injured so I'm not sure what you are trying to say with "can not be killed or injured in any way, shape, or form". So perhaps either rephrase or remove that bit to make it clearer. $\endgroup$ – Chris Jul 31 '18 at 13:27

17 Answers 17

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You can fake some age with makeup and hair coloring. You could probably "age" from 28 to 58 over 30 years without really setting off too many alarm bells.
Any comments can easily be explained away with "well, I guess we have really good genes."

Then after 30 years you start to cut ties to friends. This is easier if you don't really make many friends to start with. I mean, they are all going to die eventually anyway, so long term the only person you can bond with long term is your spouse.
Once ties are cut enough you can take off the makeup and essentially be a new person again who only happens to look like the old person.

One way is to "marry" your own replacement identities.
Get a new identity faked up, and your 58 year old wife "dies". Then you happen to meet a new 28 year old woman and marry her. After a few years go by you "die", and your widow marries a "new" 28 year old husband.
The chain goes unbroken, no assets are lost, you may have to pay some estate taxes depending on local laws, but at least you won't lose everything.

The only people who might need to know in this scenario would be employers, but you can just freelance and avoid that problem, and maybe if you find a really close friend, you might tell them too.

Edit:
Regarding friends and community, and allowing for the fact that there are others in the world, I can see people in this group gravitating toward each other after a lifetime or two, starting a new community with people that won't disappear after only 80 years, and who understand the challenges and wonders of living forever. This would probably happen naturally, as the immortals find themselves without friends and family over time.
They would just pack up and move to their forever home.

Edit 2: Immortal Games
Eventually stuff would start to get boring, and so new pastimes and hobbies would be attractive.

Rags to Richest Reboot - A city is drawn at random from anywhere in the world, and the contestant is dropped in with the clothes on their back and a valid ID. The object is to see who can get from homeless poverty to wealthy the fastest. Extra points are awarded for style.

So You Want To Be A Super Hero - Using the skills learned over decades or centuries, go into a high crime area and clean things up. Points scored by starting and ending living conditions.

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    $\begingroup$ That'd be a whole new identity to worry about and the idea is to not cut ties with friends and family until its their time. How can I keep my lifestyle if my lifestyle requires me dying every few years? That'd be a lot of paperwork too... $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian Jul 30 '18 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Anoplexian not every few years, and unless your friends are immortal they'll die off over time anyway. You can let your closest, most trusted friends in on the secret, and now Susan is Suzy and looks 30 years younger. But honestly, it might not take all that long for you to stop having things in common with your old friends. The new identity doesn't have to do much, it's just a fig leaf to throw off suspicion. The government doesn't care, and may even have procedures in place to make things easier since you aren't the first. You'd be able to keep your home and other assets. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Jul 30 '18 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ Seems like a very short term plan. How is a little makeup going to help when the human race continues to evolve and possibly looks completely different in millions of years while he continues to look the same? $\endgroup$ – Shufflepants Jul 31 '18 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Shufflepants If that starts to become a problem then something like plastic surgery could be an option, but that kind of change will be so slow and gradual that they will have plenty of time to work out the problems. I've heard that if you took a neanderthal and game them a haircut, shave, put them in a nice suit, and taught them modern social norms to keep them from hitting cars with a club or something, they could walk down the street and no one would really notice that they are different. Fads will be a lot harder to deal with. And they could head out to the stars eventually. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Jul 31 '18 at 14:20
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    $\begingroup$ @AndyD273 Also, the OP never specified whether our immortals can have kids or if those kids are also immortal. If they can have kids, I wonder if it's possible if they could effectively halt evolution for humans by popping out a couple every few decades. Though this might lead to problems with inbreeding down the line, and would likely lead to them being discovered as immortal not to far down the line as some geneticists start trying to track down this weird genetic bottleneck. $\endgroup$ – Shufflepants Jul 31 '18 at 14:23
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Social alienation is your biggest problem and good makeup won't fix that.

After a few decades, you and your wife will be irrevocably 'other' to most humans on a social level. If you attempt to maintain your original identity, people will start to wonder who you are when you write "Age: 450 years". All those questions will get tiresome after a while (well, they would for me).

Say you have a set of 10 friends who are approximately your age now. In a few decades, they will want to stay home, enjoy good wine and talk about politics. Your wife and you will want to go do things because you'll have the physical vitality to do so. You also won't look or move like your friends anymore. Whether the divergence of the friendship is gradual over time or a sudden termination will depend on lots of factors. Even if you do somehow manage to maintain these friendships, all these friends will die. Either you retreat into the friendship of your spouse or you find new friends.

To younger people who more physically match your own appearance and abilities, your mental state will border on alien (perhaps more-so than humans who have aged normally). Your priorities may be radically different and your perspectives will certainly be different. You'll be in this weird place where your bodies are young but your minds are very old. Young people may bore you quickly while older people just won't accept you because you're too 'young'.

Family Relationships

No matter how close you are to all your family members, all those relationships are going to end. How much emotional turmoil are you willing to deal with? Let's say that your favorite aunt gets cancer and is on her deathbed. You know full well that you can save her life and keep her around forever, if you share the secret of immortality. That's an easy situation that can get really sticky later.

What happens when it's your least favorite aunt who has cancer and you don't want them to live forever but your family members don't want that aunt to die? If it's known that you could have saved them but didn't, resentments that will never die could start there. You may not have the option of breaking ties with your family. Your resenting relatives may tell their children who tell their children to never ever forgive you.

Do you want to watch all your family members die, especially in light of knowing you could save them but choose not to? You will watch your grandchildren and great grandchildren die.

Physical Comfort/Wealth

Eventually, you and your wife will be very wealthy. Maintaining physical comfort will be very easy after your investments pay-off in 30 years. Most people race to get enough savings to live off the interest before they can't work anymore. You don't have that problem. Investments that won't pay off for 50 years are acceptable because you've got eternity to wait.

There are many time-tried methods for preserving wealth. Trusts, inheritances, shell companies, and so on. Making sure you have a good place to inherit all your assets isn't hard, especially since you've got enough money to afford extremely good tax attorneys and accountants.

Immortality is such a strange place

Everything is boring. Everything changes but nothing changes. Preserving a specific lifestyle is impossible in a modern era. The world as a whole changes too fast. If you want to stay the same, you'll have to work increasingly hard to preserve your way of doing things. In 100 years, cell-phones may not be a thing. They weren't 100 years ago. It's far better to adapt to whatever the current circumstances. It's cheaper and provides a chance to avoid the tedium of existence by new novelties.

You can expect that the oldest aspects of human existence will persist. You'll still have and need friends. Acquiring food, shelter and clothing will take up some of your time (though if you're wealthy this will be a really small portion of your time, if you want it to.)

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure "I can share the secret" was intended in-world or just as a cute framing of the question. This should probably be asked as a clarifying comment since it changes things a lot... $\endgroup$ – R.. Jul 31 '18 at 17:38
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Since you can share the secret, do so.

First, share it with a multi-billionaire who will then fund the rest of this answer out of gratitude.

Now share it with all your closest friends and let them share it with their closest friends. That should give you a big enough group to take over a fancy gated housing development near where you currently live. The trick is, your group has to occupy every single house within the community so that no strangers are ever around to notice that none of you are aging.

Then, every last one of you can either quit your job or choose a work-from-home option. Remember, you have a multi-billionaire on the team, so working is purely optional.

From there, it is clear sailing until the sun burns out.

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  • $\begingroup$ How do I avoid the paparazzi, jealous bystanders, and overzealous scientists that would inevitably wait for me every time I need to leave the community? The instant fame is a pretty radical change... $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian Jul 30 '18 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Anoplexian: I think Henry's plan relies on nobody outside the community ever finding out that you never age. However, adding so many people in on the secret will make it harder to keep hidden, and eternity is a pretty long time to not bored of a single group of people. $\endgroup$ – Giter Jul 30 '18 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ On a billionaire's budget and with three shifts of immortal security guards at the gate to deal with the amazon delivery trucks and drones, why would you ever leave the community? $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Jul 30 '18 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ @HenryTaylor For the same reason humans don't like living like sardines even if everything is provided for, social interaction, new experiences, and cabin fever. $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian Jul 30 '18 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ @HenryTaylor It's hardly the same lifestyle then isn't it? XD $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian Jul 30 '18 at 18:12
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You can opt for de-constructive surgery which adds wrinkles manually and get age spots tattooed as you get older.

One day when you are ready to start over you can secretly move to a new location (it doesn't have to be far), skin yourself (go ahead and pull that hang-nail ALL the way back), wait for it to grow back, and go introduce yourself to the new neighbors.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for skinning as a rejuvenation technique. The ultimate exfoliation! $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Jul 30 '18 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ Very interesting solution to avoid makeup, but I'm wondering if the body would consider plastic surgery as an injury and "heal" itself back to its normal appearance... $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Aubrey Aug 1 '18 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexandreAubrey fortunately, OP's question is vague in that regard :-) $\endgroup$ – MonkeyZeus Aug 1 '18 at 16:51
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Buy houses in different states (or very far apart cities) with the money you have accumulated. If you move a few hours away, they are less likely to visit you, or you could just not give them the address of where you moved to. You can ignore them and slowly freeze them out over social platforms too.

Every 20/25 years, switch to a different house. Get a new job at the place you worked 100-ish years ago. That way the place will always be familiar and feel like coming home to you.

For example. If you work for a hospital, when you move to your second house for the first time, you'll have to get a job at a new one. Then after the years have passed and anyone who would have known you has passed on, move back and get a new job back at the place you were working at before. Swap back and forth.

If you only did this with a few homes, and living there for long periods of time, they won't feel foreign. You'll just be coming home to a different home. Only keep/maintain about 4/5 houses depending on how often you want to move around. Every 100 years or so, withdraw your money from the bank and open an account at a new bank.

Every 20/25 years would be good amount of time as well, as you could pass off looking like an old 20 year old or a young looking 40 year old. You would also be able to tell your friends/family that you got a new job offer and are moving far away for that reason. But are keeping the old house for retirement reasons. It's good to keep your money invested in real-estate.

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    $\begingroup$ Using hospitals... pick the right group of 'em to cycle through and you may have duplicate floor plans and all! Place where I worked is a duplicate of another hospital 60 miles away, which is a copy of one another 100 miles away. Much cheaper on architect fees. Of course expansions since have made them different, but the original core is all same same. $\endgroup$ – ivanivan Jul 30 '18 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ Nice in theory, but in reality you need ID to get a job. If you look 28 but your ID says you're 48, people may just say "huh, you're lucky". When your ID says you're 68, or 88, or 288, then you're a bit screwed. $\endgroup$ – Graham Jul 30 '18 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Graham If the government is in on it, then IDs probably won't be a major issue $\endgroup$ – forresthopkinsa Jul 30 '18 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ @forresthopkinsa But the OP is trying to avoid drawing attention to themselves. The very last thing you want is for any government to know, unless you want to be "disappeared" and tortured continuously forever until you give up the secret. And then most likely experimental surgery forever, without anaesthetic, so they can see exactly how immortal you are. That's best case with a Western democracy like the US or UK which will "only" subject you to whatever a CIA/MI5 handler will allow. No, you really don't want the government involved. $\endgroup$ – Graham Jul 31 '18 at 12:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Graham Yeah but the OP specifically says that the government knows because it's happened before. I'm sure there would be a process to send them re-identification every 20/25 years. $\endgroup$ – Sensoray Jul 31 '18 at 12:23
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Create a trust

By creating a trust (or a shell company, LLC, etc) you can move ownership of all your worldly treasures into said trust. Trusts are commonly used to prevent any 'Death Taxes' in the US by preventing your estate from needing to be transferred upon your death, since it already owned by an immortal legal entity (the trust). This helps ensure your possessions transfer seamlessly when you enact part 2:

Have 'Children', then die

When you turn '28' you and your wife have a couple of kids, a boy and girl; but only on paper. You now include these non-existent children on the trust; and have ownership of the trust pass onto them upon you an your wife's tragic deaths at age '56' due to a horrible 'SOMETHING' accident. Unfortunately this does mean that it will be hard to have close friends, since they may become suspicious if they know you for a couple decades, but never meet you children. Such is the price of immortality.

Get good at Make-Up

As mentioned in the other answers, make-up can make you look slightly older. You will need to cycle between looking 28-56 years old; looking like you are ageing naturally.

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Frame challenge here. You can't keep your lifestyle the same because the world is going to change out from under you. Seriously.

Just in 30 year hops (about the age range you could cover with easy makeup), you're going from - seeing the rich people get mechanical horses, to - gathering scrap for the war effort, to - the Haight Ashbury Summer of Love, to - watching the planes hit the towers.

Remember when Facebook and Twitter crashed during 9/11? You don't remember that? Because it didn't happen.

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Just Come Out With It!

Make no attempt to hide the fact. Walk around the world and live your life normally. If anyone questions it, simply tell them ‘I’m immortal’. How many people will truly believe you? A fraction, even with clear evidence in front of their eyes. Sure, the press or the internet may get ahold of your story, but to most of the world, you’ll be a tabloid headline or: “This Couple Gained Immortality With This One Simple Trick!” clickbait. So long as you never apply for government benefits (or retirement/company pensions) you will soon find that as long as they don’t suspect fraud, they could care less. The entire world is ran on computers, and as long as you HAVE a valid birthdate, ID#, DNA on file, and the correct papers, these faceless entities will give you no trouble whatsoever. In fact, these things technology-wise will work against you, sooner than later, it will become impossible to fake new identities and biometrics, and the trouble you’ll get in for attempting to do so outweighs the (possible) explanation of your long-life. In the next hundred years, for the super-rich in any case, extremely long-life or immortality will probably become a thing. You’ve survived past the ‘burn the witches’ phase of humanity, but the jig is up, it’s time to just be who and what(ever the hell) you are!

(Just don’t FALL DOWN A HOLE!)

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Government program analogous to witness protection

The government knows about it and is willing to help, then the simplest solution would be to have a program analogous to witness protection in which they give you new identities every ~20 years (as other answers mentioned, that amount allows you to pass off as old-looking 20-year-olds or young-looking 40-year-olds). They would be able to move your money for you so it follows you (keeping the same financial lifestyle). They'd find you a job where you wouldn't have to explain anything to your employer. They'll find the most discreet way to disappear and create identities that won't raise too many eyebrows - it's their job.

The biggest hurdle will be the social aspect of making new friends at those points and the psychological aspect of losing the ones you had - but nothing can change that when your lifespan is infinitely longer than that of your friends.

I'd consider this the least radical change possible because moving and changing jobs isn't exactly radical, and changing friends is mandatory in your situation. Unless...

Social Aspect:

try to find the other immortals! You said you're not the first, so surely the others are still alive by the very nature of the situation. Having more than one person (your spouse) that you can get to know long term could help make things much easier when the time comes to switch identities.

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    $\begingroup$ The advantage of this, is that the government could charge rich immortals a fee for this service, and use the fee to fund their entire witness protection program. Win-Win. $\endgroup$ – Adrian773 Aug 1 '18 at 5:27
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The government is aware

That is your answer right there. If your government knows about you, and wants you to stay hidden, they will help you.

You still have to move every so often, but at least keeping your fortune will be easy.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Hidden Government! $\endgroup$ – Manoj Kumar Jul 31 '18 at 7:43
  • $\begingroup$ Also, OP could get a government job which would eliminate the need to switch jobs every 20 years to avoid suspicion. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Aubrey Jul 31 '18 at 13:55
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You are immortal, which means you need to start some medium and long term planning.

In the immediate term (10s of years), using makeup and faking your death every 20-30 years works. It gives you a few decades to enjoy each "crop" of education/employment/friends. It isn't perfect, but nothing is.

The short term (100s of years) would involve trying to shape multiple communities you can enjoy living in, and the ability to easily slot into them. You'll also want to try to (slowly, as you have the time) move up into the ownership class in order to cushion yourself against employment and other risks and maintain your lifestyle. This can eliminate your need to have a job with superiors, which saves a bunch on paperwork and job jumping.

Your medium term problem (thousands to millions of years) is the stability of society as a whole. Maintaining your standard of living requires an industrial civilization, functioning biosphere, and an open and free society. A nuclear war would make things unpleasant, as would being thrown into a volcano or being cut apart and tortured as a black site. And things may get boring if the human race dies out.

Next the mid term; you have to get out of our solar system. The planet is only going to be habitable for on the order of a billion years.

Then, in the long term, you have entropy to fight. The sun will swallow the Earth, the sun will collapse into a white dwarf, the white dwarf will cool and go dark, the protons in the white dwarf will decay. Nothing will be left but extremely red shifted photons and the immortals floating in empty nothingness. While this seems quite remote, a true immortal risks spending almost all of its existence in the cold endless heat death of the universe. Either finding a way to end your own existence before this point, or solve the entropy problem.

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    $\begingroup$ So.... become Elon Musk? Corporate overlord, fighting climate change, space colonization....... $\endgroup$ – Adrian773 Aug 1 '18 at 5:32
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    $\begingroup$ This is a very interesting viewpoint. Immortality is always seen as a blessing, and in the short term it may very well be, but noone thought of the long term. Maybe historically this was because nobody was aware of the processes of millions of years of the universe, and could not incorporate such a perpective into their myths. $\endgroup$ – svenper Aug 1 '18 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ I'm glad somebody said this. Adding to it, there's likely an -extremely- high probability of being encased in the earth at some point given its violent nature, so you might have to wait it out trapped in darkness until the Earth is destroyed. $\endgroup$ – NOP Aug 2 '18 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ @nop on the plus side, you could build a star if immortals; heat generation per unit volume of the sun is less than a mammal. So you get immortals buring and crushed for eternity; less boring than floating in the void. $\endgroup$ – Yakk Aug 2 '18 at 3:09
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Fortunately, you attained your immortality just as our society was going virtual. So all you need to do is follow the aging makeup and serial-marriage advice from the other answers as you share the mortal lifespans of your existing friends in the real world.

Then after the final funeral, and with the blessings of immersive virtual reality, you can live out the rest of eternity, interacting with new friends who will never see you or your wife's real, unchanging bodies. With a little software tinkering, your VR Avatars will age right along with your friends until the day you attend their virtual funeral services; at which point you can hit the reset button and start again.

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By using Old Age Makeup (quick-google it). It just requires a lot of training until you master the art, but you are unlikely to need it in the next couple of years, so you can practice a lot.

Then, every morning you will have a lot of work, but with practice it will become quicker. Doing it to look like gradually getting old will be very hard too, but again, you will have plenty of time to practice.

Once you have aged enough and all your friends are dead, you will have no reason to mind starting a whole new life, will you? Just hire someone to falsify all you documents and find a similar place to live (if even necessary)!

It may seem like a huge investment of time, but it will be useful for the rest of your infinite lives!

PS: Remember not to shower while not alone (or with your wife) in the house!

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    $\begingroup$ Start your own business, be your own boss, never run a background check on yourself. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Jul 30 '18 at 18:31
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Being wealthy helps

When you needn't live from labour but from capital income, you don't need a job, a degree nor any certificate or other papers. Just cash in the interest generated from your piled up money, and live discretely.

You can adopt to a life-style including long absences from home such that the ever-unchanging outlook is not too overtly seen. The trick of reappearing as some younger relative (either children of nephew and niece) reclaiming the heritage of the deceased is also a classic (occurring in some Lovecraft short story the title I just don't have at hand). It is not necessary to fake death, it is sufficient to be declared dead for being missing long enough.

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Would it really be beneficial to stay the same though? In the sense that you want to preserve your anonymity and not become a media sensation, perhaps, but I'm certain a socially reclusive lifestyle would be the way to go here until, of course, everyone else attains immortality. Yep. The might not be "as immortal" as you, in the sense that you are completely invincible, but biologically they may not age - and then, you can come out. "We're the same, we don't age" and all of a sudden things are back to normal. You might argue that their age extension might only make them 200 years old - however by the time that they're 199 the technology will be there for them to live till a thousand.

Then what? Most humans that have survived at this point are now immortal - maybe even to the extent that you are thanks to technology. Boredom? I doubt it. Go conquer the Universe. Find the truth of this reality. I think that'll keep you occupied for a few billion years.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Please note that this observation is suitable for a comment, but it's not an answer to the question. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jul 31 '18 at 22:30
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You can sell your home, buy an RV, and spend your time travelling hither and yon. Pick a large country like the United States, with a decent amount of freedom of domestic travel.

There's lots to see. Write books about your travels, publishing under a series of pseudonyms as time goes on.

You'll outlive your RV, so have plans for buying the next one.

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  • $\begingroup$ Where would the money come from long-term? $\endgroup$ – svenper Aug 1 '18 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, they become independently wealthy first. Shouldn't be too hard if they're immortal. $\endgroup$ – EvilSnack Aug 11 '18 at 16:45
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as a variation to the old-age makeup, do have children, a boy and a girl, wait until they are old enough that they could pass as your parents, then swap identities. then they act as parents, and you as children. when they die, you inherit their (your) stuff and continue.

since the government knows, they will help you with the parts where identities are tied to DNA or fingerprints.

alternatively, instead of children, grow clones.

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protected by L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Aug 1 '18 at 14:20

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