At first glance, this new online cultural phenomenon appears that way. But the message, much like the medium used to convey it, is tricky; open to interpretation and ever-changing rules of online social interactions. So what does Ghosting truly mean to generation Techno? It’s complicated depending on both the communicator, ghost, and the receiver, ghostee, and their relationship. Or lack thereof…
Ghosting is the act of disconnecting yourself from any relationship, whether it be romantic or platonic by suddenly cutting off social media and online correspondence with another person. It signals to the ghostee, “I’ve cut you out of my life online—and in my real life too.”
But much like in our daily lives, there are grey areas. Some who do it, hope for a positive response like acknowledgement of their existence and value. Others do it as an act of true defiance to communicate their own autonomy. And within romantic contexts, it’s a catastrophic message to the receiver that everything has ended abruptly.
Ghosting is often used in burgeoning romantic relationships as way of communicating disinterest quickly, like a hot knife cutting through butter. Victims of romantic Ghosting are left in a state of painful confusion and turmoil, with questions like, “What’s wrong with me?” and “What did I do?”. For the communicator, it’s painless, and therein lies the issue: to the receiver, it can be both devastating and a time of ill-assigned guilty, shameful introspection.
When Ghosting is done in platonic relationships with friends and family, it appears to communicate many different things. All of which seem to be goal-oriented in achieving a response. Sometimes it’s done to force the receiver into an action, such as self-reflection on some misdeed or wrongdoing they have committed; a form of 21st century virtual reality admonishment. Other times it’s simple: “I’m here. You forgot about me. I matter. If you care about me as much as I care about you, please respond.”
We’re comfortable now as a society with this technological distance we’ve created in online reality. This lack intimacy between people online, whittling interactions down to blotting real live human beings out of existence, is common place now. Meaningful, deep interactions rarely occur online anymore unlike the early days of the Internet. Anonymity allowed people to reach profound depths of expression.
Trolling, cats, instant porn and swiping left or right for a date has depreciated the important value of human relationships. It has corrupted our sense of what it truly means to be human and navigate our way effectively through relationships, be it platonic or romantic. And the Internet is a busy place. So it’s very easy to get lost in the bits and bytes of information passed around. It’s simple and less time intensive to understand that often behind those packets of data being exchanged, beyond the realm of even bots coded by human hands, exist real people too.
I ran an informal survey for a few weeks online to gauge how many users had ghosted someone or been ghosted, the results were split. Is ghosting the 21st century millennial diss or perhaps a blemish on the heart and soul of the Internet, human beings? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
by SM CADMAN