The unsavory act of ghosting: It’s not just a Millennial problem.
I can’t believe I’m writing about this, but I can’t sleep and this piece keeps ‘haunting’ my brain, pun definitely intended.
As a mother of teens and a tween, I’m constantly learning new terms and trends, some that I’ll never understand.
I clearly remember one of my teen girls talk about this trend of ‘ghosting.’ When I first heard it I was like — “Qué? What are you talking about?”
The said teen continued to explain how it’s this thing now to just stop responding to someone, like cold turkey, especially used in the context of dating or potentially ‘talking’ with someone.
It goes something like this — there might be initial interest and attraction followed by several exchanges by text, DM, or other social media means and then bam, nada, nothing, zero. Yes, just like that, nothing, no response ever again and I mean never, ever.
I remember saying to my teen, “Well that’s just rude. Who does that? It must be another annoying teenage or Millennial behavior. People my age know better.”
But, I was so wrong because ghosting is not just a teen or Millennial thing, it’s shamefully happening across generations. I shouldn’t generalize like that because I haven’t yet asked the 55+ crowd if they’re experiencing this terrible act as well.
I’m here to attest that this bad human behavior is definitely taking place among my demographic — the forty-somethings who are educated and hold professional positions.
When a ghosting incident first happened to me, I blamed myself and dove head deep into a useless pity party. How was it possible that this supposed friend of mine who I had such a great time with over coffee and a three hour conversation was suddenly and horribly completely incommunicado? What had I done or said or not done or not said that caused such sudden abandonment of interest? For many years I had waited for this opportunity to show my interest to this person and for a moment I thought the feelings were reciprocal, but somehow I must have mixed up the messages received.
For a couple of months after this act of ghosting I told no one, partly out of shame and the other out of hurt and continued hope that maybe in another week or so I’d hear back. It’s going to be a year since and still nothing so I think it’s now safe to say that I was officially ghosted by a professional, educated, supposedly nice forty something year old who belonged to one of my circles.
It was when I was having coffee with a friend, also around my age and who shares similar life paths, mentioned during our conversation that she’d been ghosted. At hearing this I finally confessed my incident. I couldn’t believe it but deep down knowing she had been ghosted too made me feel slightly better because it wasn’t just a me thing. As we continued to share our thoughts and experiences we realized that this ghosting b.s. was happening to many of us out there and it was definitely not just a Millennial problem, something I so wrongfully thought (forgive me Millennials).
I still find it difficult to swallow the idea that people in my age range or any other, can do such a thing to another human being. Maybe, maybe I can wrap my mind around people ghosting one another when they’re engaged in online environments as they venture on dating sites and dispose of others mercilessly, but how is this an okay thing to do outside of that? Wait, scratch that! Ghosting is just not okay regardless of the environment, context, or circumstance.
It’s my belief and I might be in the definite minority, that ghosting is a bad behavior that we should rid ourselves of completely. Everyone deserves at least a last message saying, “I’m not interested in pursuing anything beyond a friendship, but good luck!” or, “It was great talking, I wish you the best!” etc. Human beings deserve a last word, a clarification, something, right?
I want to say to the ghosters of the world, especially the person who I thought was my friend but obviously wasn’t, is the following: the sudden disappearance act referred to as ‘ghosting’ is hurtful. Be courageous and courteous enough to let the person know that you are not interested instead of just leaving them wondering and worrying about their self-worth. Human beings deserve to at least be told that you are not interested, it’s the least that can be done.
Finally, after writing this, I feel slightly better after several months of questioning what I’d done wrong. It’s not about me, it’s about the humans out there who think it’s okay to dehumanize others.