I recently came across a term called “ghosting”, and I wondered what it was all about. It sounded a little scary (Ghosts are scary, right?), but it was being used in another context, so I decided to look into it further. Maybe I should have known this already, but I guess I’m just not cool enough to know the latest “cool” words on the "street" (does anyone even say that anymore?).
Anyway, I asked a few friends and colleagues at work and went on a few trusty websites that explain all the latest words for un-cool people like me, and once I knew what “ghosting” really meant, I was immediately able to relate.
A while ago, I wrote an article titled “The Magician” on the type of guy that seems to disappear and then reappear (though apparently, this is referred to as “zombie-ing”, but let’s not get technical), and at the time, I wondered whether it was just me, or if it happened to others. After speaking to various people about this subject, I found out that it was happening to lots of other people, and I now understand why there is an “official” term for it...
I initially heard the term Ghosting on a mainstream radio station, where they were having a hilarious, but actually relatable, debate about being ghosted. Over the years, women (regardless of age or ethnic background) have expressed their frustration over men who go missing on them. You meet the guy (or the girl, if you're a guy reading this - women do it too!), you have a great time, you think things went well, and maybe you even agree to meet again, and then suddenly, with no warning, they disappear… like a ghost. Regardless of your religion, race, or any other factor, you can still get ghosted.
Like the mystery of the missing socks ...where do these people go? What happens to them once they leave your world? Are we guilty of ghosting someone ourselves?
The simple answer is that in a world of online and app dating, where we are churning out hundreds of dates and sifting through thousands of dating profiles, swiping right, swiping left, clicking block, clicking send, it seems our choices are never-ending, and it becomes boring and repetitive. We stop seeing people as people, and start seeing them as a picture with a few words on an app.
After going through hundreds of useless profiles, we sometimes forget to act like decent human beings, and instead of explaining to someone the reasons why we aren’t compatible or interested, we simply view them as another profile, and move onto the next one. We disappear with no answer or explanation, because we don’t feel we need to give one.
So, where does that lead us?
It leads to us becoming the type of people that we ourselves can’t stand – the type who think it's okay and normal behaviour to just disappear on another human being who may have actually been really into us, and who at least deserve an explanation, and to be treated politely. After sitting around feeling sorry for myself (for all of three seconds) due to all the times I’ve been ghosted, I took a look in the mirror (not literally) and I realised that I, myself, am guilty of ghosting.
So why did I do it? How could I have been so insensitive and heartless? The simple answer was because I had so many choices, a lack of time, and so many other distractions at the time, that I seemed to have forgotten that the person I was communicating with was a real person, and not just an online profile. I forgot that the decent thing to do would be to stop and at least give a reason for my not wanting to continue communicating. However, it was easier to just disappear... like a ghost.
The thought of my actions filled me with dread. Some men who contacted me online didn’t even get a reply and were simply blocked. I wondered if I should contact all the guys I had ghosted and explain, but understandably, I decided against it. Instead, I decided to make a change in myself, and I promised myself that the next time I didn't feel a connection with someone, I would at least give them a politely crafted response.
So, the next time you get ghosted, or think of ghosting someone, just remember:
We aren’t a commodity, a number, or just a face with a few words online or in an app. Nor are we just a profile picture. We are real people with real feelings, and we deserve to be treated better.
Don’t let your actions come back and haunt you.