Just because you're not on the dating scene, doesn't mean you're on safe from ghosting. The bad-mannered phenomenon is spreading like a zombie virus, through modern life and the scariest part being, you could be guilty of the crime yourself, without even really realising it.
The shape-shifting phenomenon
This Halloween, so ubiquitous has the term 'ghosting' become that there's countless viral memes dedicated to the habit, and it's even spawned its own costume. But the term that dates back to 2011 – which used to only refer to pulling a total Houdini-esque disappearing act in an attempt to avoid telling the person you're dating or sleeping with that you're actually no longer interested – has shape-shifted.
There are 'Casper' types of ghosters, the friendly ones who do try letting their victim down gently before vanishing from their life completely, or the seemingly socially unaware 'haunters': those who refuse to reply to calls or texts, but continuing liking their social media posts and watching their Instagram Stories regularly. There’s even the festive version, ‘Marley’, who, inspired by A Christmas Carol, suddenly reappears in an ex-partner's life over the Christmas period.
It's not just our love lives that are being haunted
But it's not just potential partners we're ghosting, it's happening in friendships, in Doctor-Patient scenarios and even with hairdressers. It's a rising trend in the workplace too; an article on LinkedIn titled ‘People Are Ghosting At Work, And It's Driving Companies Crazy’, details how a competitive job market has contributed to a surge in interviewees abruptly cutting off contact and turning silent during the recruitment process.
But it can very much go the opposite way too. Say for example, you've done really well in an interview for a job, you might have even made it through to the second round, but suddenly everything goes quiet. Your polite follow-up emails are not responded too and the voicemail in which you tried not to sound overly concerned never gets a call back. Ghosted!
Obviously, there are explanations to be made on both behalves. For the interview candidate, he/she could have had multiple offers and didn't want to disappoint the potential employer, and in the case of the HR professional, it could have been that it was all systems go internally, but when it came to crunch time the budget didn’t get approved or a late runner entered the race and won it without contest.
It’s this desire to steer clear of conflict at all costs that psychologists suspect is really driving ghosts’ behaviour, while other experts are arguing that the term itself is the problem and that its as its constant use is making ghosting seem normal and desensitising people to the actuality and effects of their stressed behaviour.