Exorcising the ghosts of being ghosted
BLOCKING ONLINE CONTACT with A CLOSE FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER Is NOT so UNCOMMON these DAYS — AND It CAN LEAD to DEEP EMOTIONAL SCARS. Janice Rodrigues Gets to the Bottom Of this DISTRESSING SOCIAL MEDIA TREND
When Sohini Chattopadhyay, an independent reporter and writer, was living in London a few years ago, she went through a stressful phase she recollects to this day. While visiting Edinburgh with a close friend, she got a call from her mother informing her that her father had slipped into a coma almost overnight. Her luggage was in London, it was a bank holiday weekend, and changing her ticket was impossible just then. At that point, she couldn’t help but feel that her close friend, who she considered a mentor in many ways — and who was witness to her then state of distress — started acting distant.
When she did finally get back to Kolkata, India, she tried reaching out to her friend on several occasions, but only got short messages or emails in return. “After a while, she stopped responding to emails and Facebook messages completely,” says Sohini. “Previously, she would reply within the day. I cottoned on in about a month or so.”
This was Sohini’s first encounter with ghosting, a social media phenomenon that involves a close friend or acquaintance cutting all online ties with a person with no explanation whatsoever. To this day, she has no clue why she was ‘ unfriended’. And it has not been her last case of being ghosted either — but we’ll get to that later.
As the world gets increasingly connected digitally, and more relationships hinge on the Internet, the act of ghosting is now commonplace. Chances are a person who was previously in your online friends circle has mysteriously disappeared over the years.
Or perhaps you’re the one who has pulled the disappearing act.
It’s no secret that the UAE is one of the most tech- obsessed countries in the world, with one of the highest smartphone penetrations rates. That, coupled with the fact that a majority of the country’s residents are expats, means that a lot of people maintain online relationships — be it with family members in their home countries or childhood friends. Naturally, this also increases the chances of ghosting someone or being ghosted yourself. However, according to Dr Afridi, ghosting is less dependent on the accessibility of electronics, as it is on culture. According to her, those belonging to Middle Eastern or Eastern countries tend to avoid losing face, and can be more averse to conflict. This in turn leads to them blocking difficult messages to avoid any kind of confrontation.