A quick, modern horror story. You meet someone — most likely through an app, a friend or at a party, shouting exposition over Sicko Mode’s third appearance of the night. Either way, you meet someone, and you think there’s a spark. The next day, the obligatory follow-up texts or snaps are sent. You exhaust a lifetime’s catalogue of small talk and conversation starters, waiting for the invite or the meet up.
Maybe you do get the invite, and maybe this does actually go somewhere, but it doesn’t matter because it still ends with you staring down the red triangular outline of your sent Snapchat, slowly realizing that “opened two days ago” means they’re just not that into you.
You’ve been ghosted, obviously.
But think of what’s actually happening here. As soon as those follow-up texts were sent, you had locked that person into a modern courtship process anchored by constant conversation. The cycle begins the moment you wake, from “good morning” to “good night,” with unending communication in between, and there’s really no way out. Taking breaks suddenly makes you look disinterested, and if the conversation burns out or you just don’t reciprocate the feelings, deciding to stop talking to that person leaves you committing one of the worst social crimes of our time.
Honestly, we expect a ridiculous level of commitment from people we made eye contact with a few times at a frat party. The act of ghosting makes sense. The same way any failed relationship has played out before, if we lose interest, we pull away. Gestures and acts that were once considered romantic become desperate and obsessive, and communication slowly comes to a stop. This process is expedited when gestures aren’t every few days, but every few seconds. When texts become five in a row, plus a Snapchat, plus a “like” on Instagram, the attention overwhelms the person whose feelings can’t match up. Now, “slowly pulling away” becomes running for the hills.