The year is 2018. You’ve been talking to this dude on Tinder and you’re having a great conversation. The time comes when it’s time to meet up. You set up a date and time, agree on a location, and feel excited toward the prospect of meeting in person for the first time. You check in the morning of. “Hey. We still on tonight, right?” But you get no response.
What happened? Can this person not make it anymore? Did their phone die? Should you go anyways, just in case they’ll be there? Did they have an emergency? Did they lose interest?
The questions compound one on top of the other and you’re left with no answers.
Why is this predicament so common in our current society? And is technology solely to blame?
I often wonder if ghosting was something that has been common throughout time – just more noticeable today. Akin to that of the struggle with police brutality and injustice, we’re probably experiencing a similar rate. All technology does is shine a light on something that’s already been happening.
Ghosting isn’t new. But our ability to witness this phenomenon is.
I can tell you why I’ve ghosted a few people in my lifetime. Once, I thought the person was unresponsive to an adult, difficult conversation, making my efforts to smooth things over ineffective. Another time, I had just run a ‘social marathon’ making sure to spend ample time and energy to establish decent relations with a ton of new people, all to end up ghosted by almost all of them. I’m talking like, 20 people. So by the time someone was finally willing to interact seriously, I was drained emptier than a sand dune in the Sahara.
There are a thousand unique reasons why people ghost. And behind every reason is an unwillingness to engage. Perhaps the terms of the social contract are not sweet enough? Or is it that this era is lacking in emotional IQ compared to others?
To that last question, I’m actually gonna say “Yea, maybe.” I’m observing trends in black and white thinking, where remaining in a gray area is seen as dangerous to the well-being of certain demographics. The demands of this society require that you state your progressive, liberal values that tie into social justice and activism, or else you’re not for human rights at all. One or the other with no in-between. Burned bridges are the pride of this land.
And I get it. I’ve sat down with people on “the other side” and spoken to them about how racism affects me as an individual, or how feminism is a benefit for everyone. When that person starts countering what I say, that fucking hurts. It gets my blood boiling to a point that I either want to punch them in the face, scream at them, or cry, because to me, they’re saying that I should suffer under the circumstances of this society despite them being unfair, an impediment to the enjoyment of my life, and completely arbitrary. We don’t have to live like this. And people who are in positions of oppression don’t choose to live like this. It is only the beliefs of those in power that forces them to live like this.
And when those people who have those powerful positions don’t understand or notice why or how these things affect the oppressed, it becomes a hopeless endeavor. For decades, educational opportunities have presented themselves. But many people in power don’t want to hear about ‘depressing’ or ‘negative’ topics, so they might tune out. And then the people in pain feel that it’s useless to continue subjecting themselves to this emotional onslaught, so they check out.
Have our problems become so big, and so unsolvable, that we feel there is no other option but ceasing interaction?
I went on a whole tangent there, and I’m not sure if the two situations are connected or not. I guess what I’m trying to contemplate here is whether or not ghosting is a coping mechanism learned in a society where hard conversations are often avoided. Are we, the population of 2018, completely incapable of facing our problems and fixing them head-on? Or are we simultaneously the victims and perpetrators of this cultural phenomenon? What can we do to fix this as a society? Where do we start?