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Modern Problems: Is It Okay to Ghost People?

Updated on May 6, 2020
Kyler J Falk profile image

Social issues can only be remedied by a collective acceptance of those opinions we view as opposing our own.

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With the introduction and increasing prevalence of communication through electronic mediums, we are also coming across novel social issues such as ghosting. These things, as it goes with so many novel experiences, are slowly making their way to the level of being important enough to be taken seriously and get the sort of constructive attention that solves such issues. I'm here to say that ghosting is a very big problem, causing many individuals great distress, and these individuals don't deserve to be made fun of nor ghosted in the first place!

Man, I really hate when people don't message me back. Maybe it's the Cancer in me but I just automatically assume something is terribly wrong or they're somehow mad at me for some unknown reason. Anyone else? Just me?

— Anonymous influence for this piece

What Is Ghosting?

To ghost someone, or the act of ghosting is, "the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication."

Now because many people have come out to defend the act of ghosting, it is important that we clarify what the act actually is by breaking down the definition a little bit further. Please take notice of the specification that ghosting is the discontinuation of personal relationships and not casual relationships. Thus, simply ignoring a stranger isn't in full cooperation with the definition of ghosting; but for the sake of argument we are going to say that this behavior applies to any relationship no matter the level of intimacy.

Colloquial definition of ghosting: The act of leaving any sort of conversation through an electronic medium, and willfully ignoring any subsequent message and ongoing attempt at dialogue. Basically, entertaining a conversation with someone then pretending they don't even exist anymore. Often this behavior is accompanied by an excuse such as, "sorry I was busy," or, "I forgot we were talking," but this is rarely a representation of truth.

We live in an age where 81% of the U.S. population owns a smartphone, and 72% of those individuals are on social media pretty much non-stop. A majority of the time the ones who are ghosting are the same type to post forty memes an hour, but also claim they are busy! What a crock!

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It Is Never Acceptable

Going off of the literal definition I'd say that any sane, fair, and impartial individual would agree that intentionally ignoring people you care about is unacceptable in any situation; especially when you had started a conversation to begin with. The people you claim to care about, at least enough to humor their desire for conversation, do not deserve to be ignored out of the blue with no warnings. There are those who will have a panic attack, worry about you, or even feel slighted by such behavior; especially when this behavior becomes habitual and proof starts to arise contrary to the claims of, "necessity."

Whenever I hear about ghosting these days, it is usually concerning dating or from the interpersonal interactions between close friends. People are being made fun of, even called psychos and other misnomers for hating the act of ghosting and trying to ensure it doesn't happen. In an age where everyone is tonsils deep in their phones, computers, iPads, and other forms of media there really isn't a valid excuse not to offer some warning.

It doesn't take longer than about three seconds to add in before you disappear, "Hey, gotta go ttyl!"

Something that takes less than three seconds for me to type on the keyboard, it will take you even less time to offer someone this kindness on a phone or iPad with auto fill features or even a gif response. Your excuses are invalid as it concerns the definition of ghosting. Give that person a warning, and hopefully you care enough about the personal relationship to give a real explanation as to why you're dipping out.

The one exception is when ghosting is for your own safety, in which case you should block them from your life and accounts. Blocking is not ghosting.

Have you ever been ghosted by someone you care about?

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Open and Accepting Communication

Here comes the hard part, the real solution to ghosting. We have established that ghosting is the intentional act of ignoring someone and that someone can be a personal friend or an impersonal acquaintance. Equally, we have set the grounds for the realization that ghosting is inherently damaging to a myriad of different people and relationship dynamics.

As I said in the previous section, before you consider ghosting someone, just tell them why you are leaving the conversation! Ghosting is never reasonable, but saying, "Hey, I am done talking for now. I'll message you later!" takes you about five seconds or less and can avoid emotional upset on both sides. Even better, if you don't like the person then say that too!

It doesn't hurt so much to hear that someone isn't really into you and your relationship dynamics, but what does hurt is being lead on and convinced that this other person is just busy despite evidence to the contrary. Grow a pair, be an adult or adult-like, and be honest about your feelings with people. This goes for both sides as well, it never hurts to tell someone you feel like you are being ghosted and to express your emotions to them in a fair and calm manner.

Anyone worth speaking to in the first place will respect your feelings, and probably won't ever ghost you! If you feel you can't communicate your feelings with the other person without emotional upset, they aren't worth your time!

Take the time to care, whether you're the ghoster or the one being ghosted. Care about yourself and the world around you, and accept that open and accepting communication is key to long-term happiness for all!

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    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 months ago from California

      I tend to agree, Nella, and the most worrying part about it is the trickle-down effect it has. One person ghosts another, the other person ghosts them back, everyone starts seeing ghosting as acceptable because there are no immediate consequences other than losing a friend, and all of a sudden unspoken bitterness can take root.

      It is a very interesting dynamic, a sad one as well.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Nella DiCarlo profile image

      Nella DiCarlo 

      11 months ago from Guelph, Ontario

      Great article. I dislike ghosting - particularly if you have had an ongoing friendship or connection. It's simply rude and causes heartache and uncertainty. It can depend on the situation of course, but in general it is a cowardly move.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 months ago from California

      In such a case where sanity is in question and under assault, I say ghosting is the best option in lieu of being able to talk the problem out. Though I always let someone know why it is I will be ignoring them, ignoring them can be the best option for the self.

      Thanks for reading, Marcy!

    • Marcy Bialeschki profile image

      Marcy Bialeschki 

      11 months ago from Cerro Gordo, IL

      Hum...this concept is a little new to me, so I'm glad you explained it. I would never do anything of the sorts to anyone I care about, for sure. However, I have an "old friend" from high school who tries to pop in and out of my life, and she has made a habit of connecting and then disconnecting, which I guess is ghosting. So now when she tries to connect I ignore her. She acts like I'm the dysfunctional one. I cannot take her drama, so now I guess I am ghosting her. It's all for my sanity, really.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 months ago from California

      @Pamela: I'm so happy I could bring this topic to your attention! For some, it causes a great deal of stress and discomfort.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 months ago from California

      @Kate: You have made an excellent point about role models, and with the accessibility of the internet along with everything on it I would say that it is upon us as adults to act in such a way we'd wish to see our children behaving. Unfortunately performative cruelty is ever-present on the web, and people don't think it has much of an effect on the world at large; sadly, they are wrong but we must continue to try to be the role models for a brighter future.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      11 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I didn't know what ghosting was until I read you very good article. Thanks for th is information.

    • profile image

      Kate 

      11 months ago

      Ghosting is rude. Plain and simple. I usually respond and let a person know if I need time to take a break or if my next course of action is to block them. I find ghosting to be common among people whose personality runs hot and cold, people with certain mental illnesses and learning disabilities. I also think that an important factor is how parent(s), caregiver(s) and teacher(s) as well as school psychologists teach children social skills. if the adults in a child’s life model bad or good social skills then that is definitely going to have an impact on the child.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 months ago from California

      Thank you, Mitara, your comments always carry heavy weight with me. In lieu of constructive conversation, yes, perhaps it is better they just disappear from our lives like dust in the wind.

      Thanks for reading!

    • MitaraN profile image

      Mitara N 

      11 months ago from South Africa

      Remarkable article as always, sometimes it a well needed conversation with people that can't handle, I won't say criticism but more straight talk like your usual personality and eventually end up not blocked but ghosted.

      Recruiter have those tendencies, first in contact like a pest, then suddenly they vanish into thin air, lol.

      You make great points, maybe most of the time it's good that it happens that way, as sometimes it's a way of allowing them to do it rather than yourself doing it to others.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 months ago from California

      @Jennifer: I'm happy you enjoyed the article, and I feel that is the exact solution to the problem of ghosting. If only open communication and honesty weren't so easily turned to weapons of cruelty, then people would be more willing to express vulnerability about their sentiments.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 months ago from California

      @Bushra: Risible, I really like that word and you have taught me something new today. For that I thank you deeply!

      Yes, one click, one tiny tap away can make all the difference in a friendship these days but there are those who feel even that much effort is too much! So silly!

    • Jpanaro982 profile image

      Jennifer Panaro 

      11 months ago from Eastchester

      Great article! I feel that ghosting happens more so now than ever. It is cruel and unfair, especially when the other person is invested. It is better to just be upfront and honest then to just ghost someone and lead them on. Once again great article! Very informative! It has many valid points and a clear definition of ghosting. Nicely done!

    • Bushra Iqbal profile image

      Anya Ali 

      11 months ago from Rabwah, Pakistan

      Ghosting hurts. And being 'too busy' is a risible excuse: How much time does it take to post a laughing emoji after a thirty-second funny video someone sent you?

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 months ago from California

      Absolutely, Ruby, it can be gut-wrenching at times; especially when you have to be the one to ghost people for your own safety and comfort. Luckily it can be a rare occasion, or even non-existent if we all work hard at maintaining fair and impartial dialogue. I think that if people were less scared to share their true feelings, rather than the ones meant to attack others, we'd see a lot less ghosting occurring.

      Thanks for reading!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      11 months ago from Southern Illinois

      It doesn't take long before you realize someone is not a serious friend. I have been writing on HP for 10 years and people just disappears without notice, and it hurts when you thought they were good friends.

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 months ago from California

      @Jenn: Very true, Jenn, and an excellent point to touch on. Our diversity as individuals, past traumas and experiences, they are all something to take into account before stopping talking to someone or before judging someone for not talking to you. We can't continue to interact with people who only brought pain to our life, even if it isn't their immediate intention.

      If only more were open and honest, in a fair and impartial way, with their feelings and beliefs then we wouldn't need to be so afraid of one another.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 months ago from California

      @John: How correct you are, and it is oh so unfortunate when it occurs. It is almost like a void, even if I ghost someone for the better it takes a little bit out of you each and every time. Alas, we must all do what we feel is best and learn from the consequences of our actions, hopefully before it is too late.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Kyler J Falk profile imageAUTHOR

      Kyler J Falk 

      11 months ago from California

      @Mr. Happy: Very true, back in my managing days we'd lose people left and right with no warning. It is unfortunate, but also understandable in many cases. Even I've walked out on jobs, never to look back.

      As for the communication, I agree, I always tell people, "Hey this is the reason I am no longer going to speak to you, goodbye forever!" and on I go with my life. Perhaps a few writings, maybe a few ruminations on the topic but after that goodbye my personal conversations are over.

      Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      jennkesler 

      11 months ago

      Great article!

      Ghosting is so common online but it also takes place in person. I know some people who talk so much about "cutting people out of their lives". Sometimes it makes me nervous that they'll cut me out one day without any communication or closure. "Cutting people out of your life" may be necessary at times - just as blocking and ghosting online may be necessary.

      It all depends on how each individual subjectively defines what is upsetting, what is worthy of "cutting someone out". Sometimes this definition doesn't match up from person to person and that causes problems. I do agree that communication often solves these problems. It is unfortunate how easily some people seem to lose faith in communication.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      11 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Ghosting is unfortunately too common in these modern times of On Line communication. I have heard too many stories of people who have been in online relationships and suddenly the other party has just disappeared with no warning. Usually after making lots of promises and vows. It is a cowardly act, unless to avoid bullying or stalking. Thanks for this Kyler.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      11 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      People are ghosting jobs nowadays too. I heard an interview with a lady here in Canada saying she couldn't find workers. She said after the phone interview, she will ask 3-4 people to go to an in-person interview and they never show up. Or, she mentioned that she had people show-up to work for a day, or two and then they never come again. They don't answer phone calls, or messages ... they just vanish. She said one person left at lunch-time and was never to be seen again. Haha!! I left at lunch time once and the man who I was working for had to work hard at convincing me to go back the next day. He said: "I didn't even pay You for the day before", to which I told him to take the money and give it to the closest church available. He was a pain and would not admit it, haha!! He also would not take "no" for an answer.

      It depends ... I usually let people know when I cut them off because I do not wish to be any misunderstanding. If I do not like someone for whatever reason, I like to let them know. I also can't pretend things so ... I gotta let people know what's poppin'.

      Alrighty, be good - cheers!

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