In a recent commentary by Samuel C. Spitale in the Advocate he tackles the notion of “Gay Ghosting” and whether it’s an epidemic? If you’re not familiar with the term “ghosting” it’s when a person you’ve met either in-person or on-line suddenly disappears with no rhyme or reason. Personally speaking I don’t think “ghosting” is solely practiced by homosexuals or a problem the gay community faces exclusively. In my opinion it’s a global issue; a phenomenon created by the driving forces of technology.
While reading Spitale’s commentary I chuckled to myself because I am guilty of “ghosting.” My rationale for “ghosting” might be viewed as being fearful, controlling, or lacking commitment to the process of hooking up online or dating. However, if you’ve been online long enough “ghosting” is nothing new and if you’re like me “ghosting” is normal practice; a practice put in place to keep oneself from getting too caught up in the digital world of sex and dating.
Ivania Vanzant said it best, “Let’s call a thing, a thing!” “Ghosting” is a thing and it comes with the territory of our online culture. We live in an era of instant gratification and when we’re not satisfied we instantly move on. I am not saying it’s right. I am saying when done right it can be beneficial. “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” “Ghosting” is nothing more than a game of cat chase the mouse.
Some people claim that “ghosting” is an attribute of the millennials. While that might be true, even Generation X’ers have conformed to the behavior and no longer want to work harder than their younger counterparts.
Here is the true breakdown about “ghosting.” It’s not uncommon to chat with someone on-line and feel a connection but later realize after that glass of wine, the feeling of horniness with music playing in the background while chatting with a potential suitor who was telling you exactly what you wanted to hear, that a false sense of intimacy was created. It’s only when the smoke clears from your romantic night for one that everything turns into a questionable night of temporary weakness and rash thinking. Fantasy Island instantly becomes reality and that person in whom you were so interested is no longer a person of interest. The effort to pick up where you left off is much harder (softer – no pun intended) when you’ve relieved yourself of any sexual frustration.
Spitale writes, “Perhaps the sheer volume of people online has made it easier to abandon someone once it’s clear all their boxes won’t be checked. This behavior, while not ideal, predominates the digital world. It’s part of playing the game, whose rules have taken a considerable dive in decorum.
The problem of the broken transmission has now reached pandemic proportions. It has successfully made the leap into the physical world, and it’s no longer the result of an awkward coffee date or drunken mistake.”
Often times when we’re online it’s either late at night, when we’re weak and feeling lonely, horny as hell, or we’ve just watched a steamy sex scene on television and all we want to do is feel like we’re the center of someone’s attention. Horniness can give anyone a false sense of hope and often times guides us down treacherous roads where we fool ourselves into believing we can withhold our moment of horniness until we meet our online suitor offline. Waiting to exhale is nothing more than a lie that I can no longer tell myself. In my case relief is always the cure and my gateway to “ghosting.”
I do agree with Spitale’s statement, “Ghosting is essentially avoidance that stems from fear of confrontation. When the ghost avoids the formality of a breakup, he may spare himself discomfort, but it is magnified for the ghosted, who never achieve a sense of closure.” We are, however, a product of our environment and experiences and “ghosting” is a behavior we learn. The reasoning why someone “ghosts” is up for debate. However, in my opinion “ghosting” is nothing more than a defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms operate at an unconscious level and help ward off unpleasant feelings (i.e. anxiety) or make good things feel better for the individual.
Bottomline: “Ghosting” is here to stay. Anyone engaged in connecting with others online will have to come to terms with this behavior. Rejection whether stated (by direct interaction) or implied (via “ghosting”) is hurtful and whether done in person or online it can be perplexing but we need to find ways to cope with it when it happens to us.