When you think of the word ‘ghost’ we usually associate it with something scary, creepy or downright hilarious; maybe even sometimes cute. But the social lingo for the term ‘ghosting’ has a very negative, uncomfortable, angry or even painful connotation, especially if you were on the receiving end.
To put it plainly, if you have been one of the many countless people who have made friends online, dated a bunch or even interacted and made virtual friendships part of your social media life, you know that anytime you do not get a reply back from someone you like or really like chatting with after a period of time leaves you wondering what the hell happened?
Granted, its very possible the person might’ve gotten the flu and too weak to bother checking the endless text messages or e-mails. Eventually, if the person cares enough about the friendship, your feelings and has proper social etiquette, he or she will respond. It is one thing to not hear from someone for a while due to illness or injury. It is entirely different when you meet someone online and feel a ‘connection and start a daily rapport of communication only to suddenly have that person disappear, worse, block you access to send a message to them or worse, delete you off their friend list and in essence, disappear. Just like a ghost. Hence, the term ‘ghosting.’
I recently had my share of being ghosted with a new acquaintance I met on Instagram. After what I felt was a ‘slight’ disapgreement, we ended our chat a bit abruptly. Now I hate having things left unresolved in person or online and I a a huge communicator in mending fences and starting over. Life is just too short for letting things go unresolved.
A few days later, I sent out a greeting and wished him a great upcoming week. No response all day. I took it as he was busy with work and left it at that. The weekend arrived and still no reply back so I sent him another message asking if he was still upset about our last chat and if he wanted to talk about it. No reply. The irritating thing was that I could see on Hangouts that he was online. I didn’t know if he was just ignoring me or upset with me. I simply dismissed it and went about my business.
After a few more days of no response to my greetings or inquiries if he is doing OK, I had enough of what I perceived to be immature on his part. I simply archived the conversation and closed out the Hangouts app. I figured he knows where to find me and if he wants to chat, great. If not, no big deal. Life is full of immature, childish adults.
I think because I am now entering my fifties, I am at an age where time is no longer a luxury for me, online friendships that are long-lasting and genuine are rare pearls of great price. Gone are the days where I lamented over hurting someone’s feelings or anguish over the person not liking me as much as I liked them. It is a time-waster, and I have standards I hold high regarding mutual respect in a friendship, online or offline.
Needless to say, while most articles I have read about people going through experiences of being ‘ghosted’ by someone they like or admitting they ‘ghosted’ because it was easier to do than confront and go thru pain, awkwardness or online conflict, ghosting actually can be beneficial.
The Good side of Ghosting
It is an experience that might be awkward, painful or create anxiety and embarrassment if you are on the receiving end, but frankly, it also rids you of a possible time-wasting relationship that would’ve ended up nowhere and cost you a lot more grief and heartache had you invested more time in the long run. It also can provide insight as to what you DO NOT want in a long-term relationship, friendship or social media connection.
I am a firm believer in lists. I even created a list about the kind of husband I wanted to have back in my early 20s though I married much later in life. Lists help you determine (2) categories: what is negotiable and non-negotiable in your life. Simply put: what you are willing to put up with in a relationship of any kind and what you are not willing to compromise on.
Creating a list for the kind of social connections you want to have online is entirely up to you. But there is something to be said about being selective with the type of association you allow into your online world. Even once in a while when you think a new friendship is blossoming (platonic or romantic), it can unexpectedly turn sour or certain events may occur which result in your newfound friendship going awry and your online pal disappearing from your virtual presence altogether.
It is still a benefit because you learn from it and realize that it has nothing to do with you. How the other person chooses to behave by cutting off communication through non-response is basically lacking consideration and social etiquette.
The Bad side of Ghosting
It’s just rude, let’s be honest. It’s just damn rude to totally practice silent treatment via the internet by ignoring someone after they reach out and send messages asking how you are doing or simply saying ‘hello.’ Even if you know the connection is not what you are seeking, or the communication becomes an all-out online disagreement on a particular subject or you saw his or her picture and thought “meh…not my type” – it is still bad manners to just disappear without having the decency to attempt to end things diplomatically.
On the other side of this though, you may be attempting to communicate politely and nicely to say you appreciate their response and extension of friendship (like becoming pen pals, for example) but they refuse to catch the hint that you are not interested in pursuing an ongoing connection. When you try to be a little more blunt, they may even send you negative comments or call you names.
I mean, if you made the attempt in a nice way but the other person simply won’t leave you alone or somehow always pops in and starts sending you harassing messages because they figured out you are online, then just do the good old-fashioned ‘block’ and ‘delete’ tactics which will remove the negativity from your life so you can breathe again.
This has worked for me a lot on Instagram since my account is private. I have had many requests from others who wish to follow, but many are either ones I am not interested in or they are more interested in marketing me services or products that I find unappealing.
Other accounts are those that they simply want to follow someone and add someone to their follow list for the sake of following or being followed. What the HELL is that all about? Social media can be used effectively and enhance social connections if it is done with a purpose to do good, serve others and spread compassion and harmony.
Sometimes, however, drastic measures need to be taken and ‘ghosting’ someone unfortunately is sometimes the only alternative to avoid psycho-stalkers, online predators or trolls as they call them. Remember, there are always two sides to the coin: good and bad. Depending on your situation, sometimes you need to make a decision to ‘ghost’ someone to avoid a bad outcome that may have far more serious consequences.
The Takeaway about Ghosting
Ghosting is never a pleasant experience for anyone no matter how you see it. Whether you are the recipient or you find yourself needing to ‘ghost’ someone to avoid internet stalkers or cyberbullies disguised as negative, unhappy people – nobody likes to be ghosted but it is a very common trend these days and will probably not diffuse out anytime soon.
The best thing to do is learn from your experiences. Be very selective and cautious. Not everyone appears to be who they say they are so be vigilant who you allow into your virtual world. Social connection should always be a positive impact in your life and in return, your presence should reflect the same in the other person’s life. So practice savvy, friendship acumen while you are online because sooner or later, you may come face to face with a possible ghosting experience.
Whatever you do, always make a decision to do the right thing because life has a way of repaying in kind.