The art of ghosting

Andrew Kuo/File

Ghosting is an art. Shakespeare said it best, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” We’re performers. And some ghosters are so good that they deserve Tony awards.

According to Ghostface Illa’s definition on Urban Dictionary, ghosting is “the act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone the subject is dating, but no longer wishes to date. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just ‘get the hint’ and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested.” As much as Ghostface Illa hits it right on the money about ghosting in the dating context, people can ghost friends and family just as easily as they can ghost romantic interests.

The ghoster is like a pantomime. No words are uttered from their lips (even virtually) and they just expect you to get the message that you aren’t worth their time. Not all of us are born with an innate ability to be confrontational, but it only takes a couple of seconds to reply. Social media practices today seem to refute this statement. On Snapchat, you’re notified when someone is typing, and that notification can disappear into the cybervoid just as quickly as it appears. For those of us with iMessage, it’s a perverse world to live in when the other person has their read receipts on. There’s this awkward dance around the fact that it clearly states underneath your message “Read 7:15 p.m.,” but your friend or romantic interest still hasn’t responded in more than 24 hours.

Now, here’s a hypothetical scenario. At 4:05 p.m., you hit up someone to work on homework together because you haven’t hung out in a long time. Let’s be real, as UC Berkeley students, don’t 85 percent of the dates we go on become study dates? You’re not sure what their library preferences are, so you go with a safe bet and shoot this text: “Hey, do you want to meet at the Campanile at 5 p.m.?”

The SMS text message bubbles appear, and you hold your breath in excitement. Then, as fast as they pop up on your phone screen, they disappear. You wait with anticipation and start squirming in your seat. You begin to question whether or not the Campanile was too hard of a place to find. Surely, the Campanile is a distinguishable school landmark they should know by now.

It’s 5:15 p.m. Still no response. You’ve given them Berkeley time and a half.

It’s 5:30 p.m. and you’re kicking yourself while waiting in Evans. You start to think that the Campanile might have given off the wrong connotation. Maybe, you were too forward and should have just gone with meeting outside of Sather Gate.

By the time it hits 6:12 p.m., you go home to study alone feeling like it’s a walk of shame. Feeling dejection from this rejection, you hope that you never see said person again. Then, you realize that this person is in your discussion section, so you map out all the scenarios where you have to pretend this situation never happened.

As the ghosters, we have this false sense of security. We act like it’s socially acceptable to be this way because everyone is doing it. We put up a front that we’re too busy to respond because it’s the easy way out. In deflecting cowardice, ghosters think they’re exempt from all forms of texting etiquette and human decency.

As the ghostees, however, the narrative is completely different. We fill in the empty silence with one-sided conversations, asking ourselves what we did wrong. We end up rationalizing this lack of a response as being our own fault, when that isn’t true at all. Putting ourselves out there takes real courage, “and they don’t have no award for that, trophies, trophies,” as our emotional guru, Drake, once said.

In this day and age, ghosting should be an antiquated art form. It’s not like we’re still in the dial-up generation where our parents’ phone use would prevent us from being able to use the Internet, thus holding up our AIM conversations. As college students, we have the ability to readily check messages on our phones and respond to them on the go. Just as easily as Facebook messenger shows when someone has seen your message, you can send an oversized thumbs up or a fun Hello Kitty sticker. We should start to hold ourselves more accountable.

Let’s just say that we all have to be our own Ghostbusters. When you ask yourself, “Who you gonna call?” just remember that there’s no guarantee that someone else will answer on the other line. But don’t let the ghosters discourage you from getting that latte at Caffe Strada alone.

Contact Abigail Balingit at [email protected].