By Nathan Richardson
It’s trendier than millennial pink. It’s more popular than a matcha latte with almond milk. It’s as constant as the artisanal avocado toast in your Instagram feed. If you’ve somehow escaped being ghosted by 2018, chances are you’ve been in a committed relationship since high school or simply don’t own a phone.
If for whatever reason you are unaware of this phenomenon, ghosting is the action of ending a relationship or a friendship by ignoring the other person’s texts and calls. This could be someone with whom you have been on a couple dates, or someone with whom you have an established relationship. It plays something like this: After a couple days apart, you text them as usual and they don’t respond. A few days later, you try again and find the same lack of response. By your third try, you can practically hear Whoopi saying “Molly, you in danger girl.” You don’t want to accept it, but you’ve been ghosted.
We can remember television characters in the 90s griping about getting a breakup voicemail, and in the 2000s, the shocking breakup text. Little did those frustrated characters know, the break up text and voicemails were actually a blessing. Painful as they were, they at least allowed more closure and clarity than simply disappearing. Unfortunately, a text that says, “Sorry Melissa, I think we should break up” paired with a carefully chosen frowny face emoji is starting to seem like a meaningful parting of ways in 2018.
Now, if I’ve learned anything from Sarah Michelle Gellar’s stirring performance in The Grudge 2, it’s that ghosts are bad. So why is ghosting so common? Shouldn’t one, knowing full well that ghosts are bad, try to avoid acting like a ghost? We all fear rejection, and because of that we have a hard time rejecting others. I believe that ghosting often occurs because we are trying to protect the person we’re ghosting from feeling rejected. But as many of us know, being ghosted feels terrible because it feels like a rejection without resolution or respect. When you’re ghosting, you’re not protecting anyone from feeling rejected. You’re protecting yourself from feeling bad about it. Meanwhile, your former lover is wondering what’s wrong with them while finishing entire seasons of Gilmore Girls and finishing pints of Ben & Jerry’s at an alarming rate.
One of the things that’s complicated about digital communication is that we all have different rules about it. Technology has evolved so fast, and there’s not one school of thought on text etiquette. Some millennials find it acceptable to only respond to texts sometimes, whereas others view it rude to not reply to even a simple gif or meme. Because dating in 2018 almost always comes with communicating via smart phone, it might be a good idea to talk to your partner upfront about what kind of communicator you are. If you’re the type that wants bae to text back all day and they are not, you two may not be compatible.
Almost all of us are very tied to our phones, and I understand that some people actively try to text less and be more present. As Black Mirror seems closer and closer to reality, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend time away from screens. But please, make sure you check your phone a couple times a day, and conduct the digital part of your personal relationships with some civility. It’s time for ghosting to be exorcised.