Snapchat is turning its gaze to a social phenomenon called “ghosting.”
The app used to be solely about sending photos to friends and family — images that would only last a few seconds but which effectively got a message across. Now, however, it’s experimenting with format, and what it can achieve, given its impact on the next generation.
Snapchat is making TV shows. No, really. In fact, it aims to have three shows airing per day. Its first commission is Ghost Hunt, an unscripted comedy about the aforementioned ghosting.
But what is it? Have you fallen victim to it? And what can you do about it?
What Is Ghosting?
As Homer Simpson once noted, the problem in the world today is communication. Too much communication.
Seriously though, lack of communication can be really annoying and demoralizing, particularly in the age of online socializing. And especially when it comes to your love life!
It’s harsh but true: many of us will have received the cold shoulder after going on a date. But if you met someone via Tinder, no matter your expectations on the relationship developing, you at least deserve replies to your messages. You deserve closure.
How old is the Shroud of Turin?
"Sir, this isn't-"
How about the pyramids?
"Sir. That's not the kind of dating we do here at Tinder."
— Apathetic activist (@coketruck76) August 4, 2017
Ghosting is simply when someone you’re dating suddenly goes quiet, effectively breaking your relationship without a word uttered. They go silent on you. They become ghosts. It’s very easy to identify: you’re talking to someone via messaging apps, and the other person simply doesn’t respond.
It could happen immediately or after a few messages. Most likely, ghosting happens following a one-off date, often arranged through dating sites or apps like Tinder or Bumble. It might be after a few meet-ups. Or, on rarer occasions, it could be after a long-term relationship — the harshest of all.
In some ways, it’s social rejection, and that hurts. No one wants to feel like there’s something wrong with them, or that they did something wrong. The worse thing about ghosting is the feeling of frustration it leaves you with. You simply don’t know why they’ve stopped responding. You might’ve offended them. They might not have liked you. They could have lost their phone. They could’ve been knocked over by a car.
Saying that, it can be a small mercy if you weren’t that interested either.
Why Would Anyone Do That?
Ghosting is one of the downsides of social networking, yet it’s anything but new. It’s just a new label. This is the equivalent of someone not returning a phone call, voicemail, answering machine message, or email.
Technology, however, is an enabler, and apps have made this worse.
Why? Because we all have an online persona. Typically, you’re more confident online than face-to-face. It gives you some anonymity. That’s why comment sections are frequently vile places, and Twitter can be a minefield.
But everyone has their reasons.
They may simply be a coward. It’s easier to not comment at all than to admit you’re just not into someone. People have got to click. There’s got to be an attraction there. Whereas most of us would admit that, some would prefer just to keep quiet.
Alternatively, mistakes happen. They could’ve swiped right or up accidentally, and once you’ve attempted to start a conversation, they don’t follow-up. Would you prefer the ghoster stays silent, or say “I swiped by mistake, I’m not interested”?
Remember: photos lie. That matters when dating apps only let you publicize yourself initially through a few images and a short biography. If someone decides that profile pictures aren’t an accurate representation of you, they might not respond to messages.
When James, a self-confessed unrepentant ghoster, was confronted about his reasons, he admitted that Tinder makes it easier to do because most users have interest from different people, so won’t even notice if one stops responding to messages. He goes on:
“When you’re not invested in someone — you haven’t met them, you don’t know their surname, you don’t know their hopes and dreams — then it’s far easier to hit the block button than to decide to explain to them why you don’t want to talk to them, surely?”
What Should You Do?
Let’s say you’re on the receiving end — or more accurately, the not-receiving end. You’ve sent messages, and not got a response. What do you do? Here are a few options.
Send an Understanding Message
Try a last-ditch attempt. You don’t have to address your worries that you’re being ghosted; you can simply ask “Hey, is everything okay? I’ve not heard from you in a while and am starting to worry.”
Accept that people do forget to reply to messages sometimes. They might not mean to ghost you. A conciliatory message could prompt them into finally responding. This is about checking out their intentions.
Remember: It’s Not Your Fault
It really isn’t.
This is all on the person who is ghosting you. It’s their doing, not yours. Do not blame yourself, or even get paranoid about it (although that is, admittedly, easier said than done).
As we’ve discussed, in most cases, it’s just that they feel you didn’t click. Something else might be the matter, which has taken up their time and occupying their mind.
Talk to a Friend
This is the sort of thing that weighs on your mind. As they say, a burden shared is a burden halved. Talk to a close friend, or a family member about what’s happened. Make sure it’s someone who really cares for you; that way, you don’t feel you have to hide your feelings.
Not only will your friend be able to offer advice, but also it’ll help you accept the fact that a relationship you’d hoped for really wasn’t going to happen.
Give Up on Them
Are they really worth your time?
Seriously, they can’t be bothered to send you one single message, so why should you worry about them?
Go silent too. You’ll forget all about them very soon.
Everything Happens for a Reason
This is a good philosophy to adopt.
Their inactivity is actually a godsend. Better you find out they can be like this now than six months down the line after being in a relationship. If they’re playing their hand early on, at least you know the two of you aren’t compatible.
It might sound tough, but simply move on. There are better people out there, more deserving of you.
What Should Ghosters Do?
We’ve been through how ghosters might rationalize the act, but it’s still a brutal thing to do.
So a final note for people accustomed to ghosting others: think how it really feels if the shoe were on the other foot. Maybe it already has been. Maybe that’s how you reasoned it’s something you can do. But imagine you’re really searching Tinder for a partner, someone to love and care for you. You find them. You go on a date, and that person seems perfect for you.
You get home, and send them a message on WhatsApp. No reply. So you try again. Nothing. Time and time again, no reply. The person who seemed perfect for you… actually isn’t interested. In fact, worse than that: they don’t even have enough respect for you to break the news gently. Friendship, too, is out of the window.
Horrible, right? There’s always another way, even if it makes you feel awkward. In conclusion: just don’t do it.
Explore more about: Online Etiquette.