I've restarted this article 3 times.
I really wanted to write something novel about "ghosting" — but every time I tried to start the conversation, I ended up typing exactly what 10,000 other millennials had before.
Then it occurred to me — maybe that's the point.
If we're all experiencing the exact same thing, is this really a "phenomenon" or simply a common humanistic trait?
And furthermore — is our generation alone in this behavior, or is this something that's been going on for decades?
Naturally, like I do
every day when in need of sage wisdom,
I called my mom:
I called my mom:
Me: "Hey mom. I know I called you yesterday. And the day before. (and the day before that, but I didn't really feel the need to mention that because I promise she's fully aware of my co-dependency.) I actually have sort of a weird question for you.
[semi-awkward silence but probably just me projecting my own awkwardness onto another person because I'm good at that]
Me:"When you were young, did you or your friends ever have like — really great dates — where they thought everything was going really well and that they would see each other again, and then have the other person just totally stop responding?"
Mom: "Yeah. Maybe they had a good time, but they just weren't that into it. Or they had other things going on. I mean, I didn't really date that much – [editor's note: We're related!] – but it would definitely happen."
Me: "But how would you find out? How would it happen?"
Mom: "Mainly people would just sort of avoid each other. You would stop picking up your phone. If you didn't see them around, it was pretty easy. Or you'd tell your friends and they'd hear the rumor. Or sometimes you'd just eventually see them with someone else."
Me: "So people would just stop talking altogether?"
Mom: "People could disappear a lot easier then. Now you guys always know what everyone's doing all of the time. Then, after the 3rd time somebody didn't call you back, you'd get the hint."
Me: "How long was a normal amount of time to wait to talk between dates?"
Mom: "Usually about a week."
Me: YOU WOULDN'T TALK FOR A WEEK??????
(boys, don't you dare)
Mom: Yeah, about a week. (side note: Mom is clearly over the conversation and tries to ask me if I've put new sheets on my bed.)
(I have not.)
Me: "I can't believe you waited a week."
Mom: "Yeah, before you didn't know as quickly as you do now.
I think things might have dragged on a bit then."
Me: "So, there's this phenomenon now called 'ghosting' that everyone's really obsessed with."
Me: "Yeah. It's like — when we'll have a really good date, or even pseudo-relationship, and then all of a sudden the guy or girl just completely drops off the face of the planet. Stops following up. Stops responding.
People are really upset about it.
Do you think that's weird, or something that's unique to our generation?"
Mom: "No. I don't think anybody now is less courageous or more courageous now than they were in the past. It's not that different, it's just more immediate."
And maybe it's as simple as that.
Maybe, this good-date-followed-by-a-vanishing-act that leaves you questioning your sanity, your self worth, and — perhaps most scarring — your own self-awareness — is not a phenomenon at all, but simply a more immediately result of two instinctive, timeless, humanistic traits to
1. people please and
2. avoid confrontation.
Maybe, the painful mix of hurt, anger, disparagement, and shame, that have caused us to lash out through incessant articles and trending topics about how this revolutionary behavior is a sign of our generation's crumbling social antics is more a reaction to being denied our instant gratification than it is about any rejected romanticism.
Like when that guy you don't really like doesn't text you back right after that date you didn't really have any fun on, but suddenly you start craving his approval in a completely inane manner?
We want feedback and we want it now — and this immediacy breeds irrational intensity and a need for instantaneous approval or denial that perhaps a one-week waiting period would quell.
Or, you know, we can blame it on men and their inadequacy.
Because I'm always down for that too.