February 20, 2021
The new norm for social media prior to the pandemic was called ghosting. Ghosting is a colloquial term used to describe the practice of “ceasing all communication and contact with a partner, friend, or similar individual without any apparent warning or justification and subsequently ignoring any attempts to reach out or communication made by said partner, friend, or individual” (is the definition long enough?). The term originated in the early 2000’s, and the next decade media reported a rise in ghosting. This was attributed to the increased use of social media and online dating apps. Ghosting can be especially hurtful to the one ghosted, causing feelings of ostracism and rejection. Some mental health professionals consider ghosting a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse.
Employee ghosting is rising in the business world as well as social media. This began several decades ago as a corporate practice for potential employees. In days of yore, when you filed out an application you would receive an acknowledgement letter, and if not selected for a follow-up interview, a rejection letter. This was disappointing, but made it clear it was time to look elsewhere. With an on-line application response shifted to an automated acknowledgement and a rejection email. Now, there is rarely anything other than an automated response (if that) to the application and the only follow-up comes if you are part of an interview. I found an online article by Kymberlie Krieger addressing how ghosting effects reputation. Ghosting builds distrust between potential employees and employers and could cause a business to miss the perfect employee because of a “ghosting reputation.” Employee ghosting has gone on for years, with employees ghosting by not showing up to work rather than giving a professional two weeks’ notice. When employees receive the same treatment from employers, it seems acceptable to return the favor. This implies the adage, “What’s good for the goose . . . “
In his article, “In Defense of Ghosting”, Alexander Abad-Santos states: “the thing that undermines these diatribes against ghosting is that…[we] do not know what happened with the ghost.” Clearly, the relationship/job did not work out, but sometimes we just cannot accept the apparent rejection. Abad-Santos continues that ghosting is as clear as any other form of rejection. The reason we complain is because we wanted a different outcome. I rate this one step below the rudeness of breaking up with a text. I guess I am just old school.
Thoughts: With all the cold and snow across the country another form of ghosting has taken hold. Rather than building snow people, families are constructing snow ghosts, using light sticks for eyes. Preferably you build several of these snow ghosts, and then place the light sticks so they are looking at your neighbor’s house. With the lights shining in the snow and darkness, this creates an eerie look when they look out their window. My mom’s response to the trend was, “Best be good friends though.” Ghosting in social media and business implies the ghoster is not good friends with the ghosted. Rudeness should not be acceptable in any forum, even as etiquette seems to be becoming a lost art. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.