Is it okay to ‘ghost’ people?
- ‘Ghosting’ is defined as “the practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without explanation, especially in a romantic relationship.”
- The term ‘ghosting’ started taking shape in societal vernacular in the early 2000s as social media use increased, first appearing on Urban Dictionary.
- Fortune reported on a 2016 Plenty of Fish poll that found 78% of single millennials—users on the site between 18-33 at the time—had been victims of ghosting at least once.
- A 2020 Pew poll shows that “nearly half of US adults – and a majority of women – say that dating has become harder in the last 10 years.”
Ghosting is when someone suddenly ends an online relationship with someone else without explanation by withdrawing from all communication.
According to a study from 2018, ghosting occurs through technological means, like ignoring calls or texts or blocking the ghosted person on social media. And it always happens without the ghosted person immediately knowing what has happened, leaving them to decipher what the other person's lack of communication means. Though ghosting is considered heartbreaking, and some dramatically argue it can shatter a person's self-esteem and hurt just as much as physical pain, does ghosting someone automatically make the 'ghoster' a bad person? It's never that simple.
Though social media platforms have allowed people to access future dates with casual ease, and online communication between people who barely know each other is now deemed as normal, this modern 'normalcy' is fraught with risks. Talking with strangers means you never know what kind of person you're going to get tangled up with. Being in constant contact with someone wrong for you adds to several disadvantages, including a toll on mental health. As cited in the Journal of Public Health article, disadvantages like gamification of relationships, engaging in risky behaviors like disclosure of personal information, stalking, and cyberstalking come with online interactions, and these can have adverse impacts on mental health. At the very least, if one feels they can't be honest and direct without the other person taking offense or perhaps might not take 'no' for an answer, it is definitively okay to ghost them.
An unfortunate aspect of contemporary society is occasionally (or often) being 'ghosted.' This usually means that a romantic partner or friend (recent or even long-term) abruptly stops communicating with a person, without warning or justification. Social media has fueled the frequency of this sad phenomenon, and it's wrong to ghost people. Ghosting is immature and unnerving to the other person. It is passive rejection and leaves someone in the lurch. To start building a relationship with someone to just disappear on them, leaving them hanging, is immature and irresponsible. The ghosted person feels sad, angry, confused, and unable to seek true closure. Ghosting someone is to act in an unfair and hurtful manner, perhaps even cowardly.
And the person doing the ghosting knows how unfair they are; 'I, for one, consider myself to be an honest and straightforward person. And yet I've ghosted.' Many people play head games with others and lie to themselves when they've participated in ghosting. Similar to the awkward 'slow fade' (gradually ceasing communication with someone), there is dishonesty in ghosting. Why build up someone's hopes of a relationship or of there being no problems? Why not be upfront and say, 'I'm sorry, this isn't going to work out. Let's go our separate ways.' Stating this would be better for both parties. Many of us will experience the unexplained disappearing acts of friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, even family members! These awful situations would be alleviated if people simply said, 'I am saying 'bye.' Closure is better.