Marion Witte

October 13, 2018

Ghosting is Just Being a Coward!

Filed under: Thoughts — Marion Witte @ 7:51 pm

I was talking to my daughter the other day about how the norms in our society have changed dramatically the last few years, and how people are very comfortable in taking action to avoid human communication. She explained to me that is rampant in young people, and there was even a word for it – “ghosting.”

The Urban Dictionary Definition of Ghosting – “The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them that he or she is no longer interested.”

Marion’s Definition of Ghosting – “A selfish way of avoiding a difficult conversation.”

While ghosting may have started as a way to break off a romantic relationship, I have noticed that a growing number of people, in all age groups, are now using this technique to avoid dealing with any unwanted text, email or phone call.  I have encountered this myself several times the last few months, and so I began to wonder about its causation.  I was recently ghosted in a business situation, when someone with whom I had been communicating for weeks never responded to my final proposal.  And a person, who I thought was a friend, used it as a way to blow off a planned get-together.

Many folks attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease a relationship without hurting feelings.  In truth, it actually shows that the person ghosting is thinking more of himself or herself, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the other party than if the subject kindly stated how he or she feels.

I know that most people have busy, complicated lives, and that responding to a text, email or phone call cannot always happen in a timely fashion.  When I cannot return one of those communications the same day or the next day, I try to send a quick note, stating that I cannot get back to them at the time, but I will do so later.  This way they are not left hanging wondering if I received their communication or if I am ignoring them.

Yes, I am old-school and old-fashioned.  And I think making a timely response is an act of courtesy.

There are many psychological reasons why someone ghosts, but at its core, ghosting is avoidance and often stems from fear of conflict. Which means, at its heart, that ghosting is about wanting to avoid confrontation and avoid difficult conversations.

My intention in writing about this topic is to explore why we now are compelled to “ghost” other people, when that term was relatively unheard of 10-15 years ago.  In addition to the psychological reasons listed above, some more specific factors that come to my mind are:

  1. We lack the courage to confront an uncomfortable situation
  2. We use it as a way to avoid an unpleasant face to face or verbal communication
  3. We use it as a way to escape personal responsibility

Here are some of the excuses I received back after I was persistent in getting in touch with certain parties, after they repeatedly ignored me.  These are the excuses I got after sending a text (or email), then a second text (or email) a few days later, and finally a phone call to ask what was going on:

  • Their response: “I didn’t get your text.”  My thought: I guess that “Delivered” function on my phone isn’t working.
  • Their response: “Your email went to my spam.”  My thought: And what about the thread of business emails that went back and forth between us for the last month.
  • Their response: “My voicemail isn’t working.” My thought – Yeah, blame it on the phone company.

Psychology Today posted an interesting article by Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., about how ghosting may be causing long-term psychological damage in young people who have not developed the tools to deal with this type of rejection.  Some of the more interesting conclusions in the piece are:

  1. Regardless of the ghoster’s intent, ghosting is a passive-aggressive interpersonal tactic that can leave psychological bruises and scars.
  2. People who ghost are primarily focused on avoiding their own emotional discomfort and they are not thinking about how it makes the other person feel.
  3. The more it happens, to either themselves or their friends, the more people become desensitized to it and the more likely they are to do it to someone else.

After reading this article, I tried to think about anytime I ghosted someone, and how that may have left him or her in the dark, or worse yet, damaged.  I can only commit to do better in the future.

Therefore, when you think about ignoring someone’s attempt to get in touch with you, perhaps it would be a good idea to remember the words of Jesus as relayed in Mark: 2018:

“If a person shall decide to ghost another person, thou shall first examine your actions, to determine if you are just being an asshole.”


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1 Comment »

  1. I really like the quote from Jesus himself! HAHAHAHAHA

    Comment by Kaila M Kaden — October 16, 2018 @ 2:13 pm

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