Opinion | Either ghost or be haunted


Clare Sheedy | Assistant Visual Editor

A Pitt student responds to a text from another student.

By Anita Bengert, Staff Columnist

If someone was literally attached to your hip, how would you remove yourself? Would you peel yourselves apart slowly and painfully? Or, choose one quick chop to get the job done?

At one point or another, a person has to decide how they will separate themselves from an unhealthy relationship. The solution that I find works best for any bad habit is to quit cold turkey — entirely withdraw yourself from the situation — also known as ghosting them.

Ghosting is a term used when someone abruptly disappears from another person’s life. Those dissatisfied by the definition might just be the ones who unknowingly make it more difficult to end on good terms. Some need more than thousands of hints, dry conversations, even a direct rejection — they need you to stop responding.

Modern technology has made communication a lot easier — perhaps too easy. Some people take advantage of this access and bombard others’ alone time by spamming them with messages and calls, day and night. Nobody should feel obligated to always respond or humor a dead-end relationship — overwatering a dying plant won’t resurrect it. Although it might seem drastic at the surface level, ghosting may be the only viable option as a bittersweet ending to a memorable relationship.

Context clues are what makes in-person conversations vibrant and empathetic, and exactly what virtual communication lacks. Without natural facial expressions and tone of voice, it can be hard for someone to understand when a conversation is coming to an end. This leads to endless undesirable chatter, and those on the receiving end are left with two options — force a passive-aggressive conversation or choose to not respond at all. Sooner or later, if that person continues to double text, oblivious to the failed relationship, it is simply a matter of common sense, social skills and high sensitivity.

How many more boring conversations and wasted hours do I have to spend until I finally rip the bandaid off for my own sake? Being too nice and people pleasing often takes priority over my own comfort and personal space. The anxiety I face when thinking a conversation is finally over, but then seeing the “typing” bubbles pop up again, is like being in a car chase and shouting “did we lose ‘em?” It might seem like a compliment to have someone crave your everyday attention, but oftentimes people fall under the assumption that the other is on the same wavelength.

Presuming someone is on the same page as you may lead to some uncomfortable, and even dangerous, situations. Most women learn from a young age that if a strange man is catcalling or harassing them, it is best to not show them any attention at all. I think the same applies to the most harmless people in your life since not everyone is self-aware. Your good intentions and polite tendencies like a hug, a smile or even a random “hello” can mislead them way more than you know.

Some people genuinely believe every single person they meet will stay as a continuous presence, while others — like myself — have experienced most relationships as meaningful yet temporary. That’s the best part about dentist checkups, cancelable subscriptions and one-night stands — these brief interactions have no strings attached, invasions of privacy or constant small talk. As long as both parties have clearly and sincerely communicated their desires, neither should have any future expectations.

You don’t owe anyone your time — set boundaries. Businesses can take five to eight days to respond, but when I do it, I’m a “jerk.” People should be allowed to take time for themselves, to fully submerge in thought and come up with a creative reply. Or, perhaps respond with nothing at all. Conversation becomes a tedious chore once both sides don’t know when to end it. Sure, it’s not fair to make someone wait forever to hear back from you … but who is asking them to? We are all living in the center of our own bubbles — nobody has to be at another’s beck and call.

I am not endorsing people viciously walking out of a healthy relationship without any explanation — always be mindful of the pain you may be inflicting. Ghosting should only be the last resort after trying to kindly talk your way out of the situation, because you’ll never truly vanish. At the end of the day, there is no true escape or closure from the people circling around your little bubble.

Social media is able to reveal a person’s exact location, liked posts and newly added friends. This free access to private information is not only available to crazy stalkers and secret agents, but also dramatic teenagers who want to keep up-to-date on whoever last ghosted them. Those that argue ghosting leads to both parties not obtaining any closure should reflect on whether social media already makes closure impossible to reach.

Staying in a relationship just because you feel “guilty” is feeding false hope and will hurt the other person even more. Trust me, they were able to live before you stepped into their lives, and they will survive after you step out. Perhaps they’ll thrive without you by using the experience as a learning lesson.

Don’t let the name scare you — ghosting might just be the best solution for everyone.

Anita Bengert writes primarily about her perspective of 21st century America, the influence of social media and the humor behind societal flaws.