“It’s ghost or be ghosted,” the front page of the DTH proclaimed last Wednesday. In addition to being absolutely nonsensical to anyone over the age of 40, the headline, and the story that accompanied it, hit upon a sad truth in modern dating culture: people are jerks and technology has made being a jerk easier.
Ghosting, for all you fogeys out there, is the practice of cutting off contact with a romantic partner. It could be after one date or a whole year of dating, but without explanation one person just stops responding to calls, texts, carrier pigeons, whatever. Wave goodbye to the relationship.
It is, sadly, an incredibly common practice among today’s youths. A 2016 poll found that 78 percent of single millennials have been ghosted at least once. It is so prevalent that even a whopping 100 percent of the authors of this story have ghosted someone — we know, we know, we're bad people.
The obvious explanation for ghosting is technology. Dating apps have commodified relationships, flooding the market with easy-to-access romantic opportunities, which, as anyone who has taken ECON 101 can tell you, lowers their value. Technology also makes prolonged contact easier — conversations can go for hours and even days via text. This capacity can prove fatal, however, for the burgeoning relationship when intentions are not equivalent.
To blame only technology for the increase of ghosting would be a mistake. The foundations of ghosting were established much earlier. While the sexual revolution receives plaudits from some and criticisms from others, all can agree that it tore down social norms regarding sex and relationships while failing to establish any new ones in its wake. Regardless of the supposed failures of old relationship norms, the rules and traditions which formed them gave people guidelines for how relationships should operate. By not creating new rules, the leaders of the sexual revolution opened up relationships to a deluge of uncertainty, a kind of sexual anarchy.