No instalment of Paranormal Activity ever held a candle to the fear that accompanies the millennial social norm of ghosting. Whether you have ghosted, suffered the pain of being a ghostee or just heard the ghost stories, we are all unequivocally affected. Ghosting is the phenomenon of cutting off communication with someone, ranging from ignoring a text to disappearing entirely from someone’s life. It is a newly developed social norm, given birth to by the rise of technology, which hides behind its false appearance as a platform which connects people. Yet, it is undeniably one of the most socially destructive and disconnecting social innovations imaginable. It is not surprising that, when we are so capable of hiding behind our screens, the social structures put in place when interaction was limited to real life experience have been replaced by new, updated versions which lack any form of physical interaction.
Technology has encouraged an environment which permits the treatment of other people as disposable. We no longer feel the need to talk to each other when it is easier to ignore a message. There is no plausible reason during a conversation to simply stop talking, get up and leave and yet the most self serving and unjustified excuses support the decision to leave a message unopened or on read. Whether you can’t be bothered, you’re avoiding confrontation or you don’t want to say something difficult, the overwhelming urge to ghost is undeniable. This ease of ignorance means that we have a become a generation much less capable of navigating tough social situations. We don’t have to learn to explain ourselves, to respond to other people’s emotions and to reconcile confrontation. What’s more, the ghostee is left with insecurity and unanswered questions. The message you are sending by ghosting someone is much worse than the message you never sent. You are showing this person that not only are you not interested, but that you’re indifference is so great that they are not important enough for you to respond. When someone is simply cut off with no explanation, is it not so incredulous to assume they would be left feeling confused and insecure. By virtue of human nature in our society, we are far more critical of ourselves than others. The answers we would find, the flaws we could point to as the cause of rejection, are far more vast, personal and damaging than what the true reasons are. In many cases, the reason for ghosting may in fact be nothing to do with the other person, yet it is highly unlikely that this conclusion would be reached.
We owe it to ourselves and to each other to communicate our feelings. It is completely normal to lose interest romantically, or to feel annoyed at your friend, but these issues can only become more dangerous if left unattended. Explaining to someone why you no longer want to see them may help you to better understand yourself, and will allow them the opportunity to grow as well as protecting them from the spiral of negativity and self deprecation you put them at risk of. These social interactions teach us valuable lessons in empathy, communication and respect. It is a terrifying thought that we may be leading a culture in which our fear of rejection is so strong that we are inhibited. We shouldn’t be scared to send a message because we inevitably assume they might not reply. We shouldn’t be scared to express our emotions to other people, or live in fear angering and upsetting people. We are so casually slipping into a society that deems other people as insufficient for the basic level of respect of just replying to their message, thereby creating one which subjects us all to isolation and insecurity. The saying ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ comes to mind and, although archaic, stands true today. Respect yourself, respect each other and reply to your messages.