opiniON: The fine art of ghosting

Who you gonna call? No one, you just ghosted.

Who you gonna call? No one, you just ghosted.

ANNABEL WILSON investigates the social etiquette of ‘ghosting’: leaving an event without telling anyone.

My friend is an expert at ghosting. We’ll be at a gig or a party, then all of a sudden she’s not there. She’s masterfully vanished, without causing offence or a scene – just split, unnoticed, with aplomb.

Some might reckon this is rude, but I’ve come to think of it as a seamless transition. Often there’s no real need to tell the host or co-attendees you’re leaving. If you go up to the organiser and announce your departure, you might start a chain reaction of people deciding they too need to vacate. This is probably not what the event manager wants. And where do you draw the line on who you are obliged to say goodbye to, exactly? Ghosting, also known as ‘the French exit’, solves this dilemma. Just get the hell out of there, discreetly. Unless you’re the guest of honour you’re unlikely to hurt anyone’s feelings. The party will continue. No need to disrupt the flow of the evening with your farewell. If you later feel awkward for boosting, a straightforward text dropped to your mate/s should sort it: “Sorry for ghosting! Had to go… (insert excuse here).” Likewise you might later feel the need to message people your whereabouts as a safety measure.

This manoeuvre is best executed when a social occasion is in full swing, so you can merge with the crowd, then slip out. On the other hand, if you’re at a chilled-out affair, it is de rigeur to acknowledge your imminent retreat or “to take one’s leave”.

Carrying on the theme of communication, there is another kind of ghosting – this one in the dating vernacular. To ghost on someone you’re seeing is to stop talking to them, in the hope they’ll get the hint you’re no longer keen. This form of ghosting may be drawn out with a ‘slow fade’ followed by silence and could cause offence. All modern day daters have done it and now there’s even an app that can do your ghosting dirty work for you.

To ghost from a soiree is a solo mission, and it’s mostly about timing. You turned up, ‘showed face’, had the obligatory chit chat and now, for whatever reason, you want to go. Scan the room, consider the implications and if it feels right, just ghost. I dare you.

  • Annabel Wilson

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