Isabel Lee

The best thing about the Halloween season — aside from the candy and the horrible decision-making — is cozying up to a fire fueled by the blue books of the midterms that you failed and sharing ghost stories. When I was younger, I was more of a skeptic of the paranormal than I am now. Ghosts seemed a little far-fetched. I was much more concerned with pressing and deeply relevant fears like tsunamis and the brain-eating amoeba.

But this October, around the fire, I heard a ghost story that I simply could not deny.

“Yeah, we went out for like a month, but then she just — I don’t know — stopped texting me.”

“No voicemails? No postcards? No telegrams?”

“Nothing. Gone. Like a ghost.”

Yeah, that’s right. You thought we were going to talk about a genuinely interesting topic like disgruntled spirits terrorizing the living. No, we’re actually here to discuss the 21st-century, cultural relic that is “ghosting:” an elegant and very spooky exit route in a relationship. We took a good American concept like the ghost and turned it into a modern dating term. Now that we’re here, what can we say about ghosting that hasn’t already been said? In my extensive 10 minutes of internet research, I found a depressing number articles on the subject; I read such hard-hitting journalistic gems like “Here’s How Many Millennials Have Been Ghosted By Someone They Were Dating” and “How to Avoid Being Ghosted.” If you’ve resorted to taking up advice from the internet blog “The Latest Catch,” it might be time to take a breather in the dating game.

Here’s my piping hot take. Ghosting? Not great. It’s so easy to just shoot a quick hey-you’re-great-but-more-importantly-bye. Give the poor bastard some closure. According to a study from Plenty of Fish that probably isn’t that accurate, nearly 80 percent of single people have been ghosted at some point in their dating careers. This is concerning. Some may even say, “Spooky.” This seems like an alarmingly high stat.

Maybe there’s something larger at play that we should address. Are that many people really taking the lazy way out of dating? In the spirit of Halloween, I think we have to acknowledge the logical alternative: while you’ve spent the past three months pissed off that Greg ghosted you, Greg actually got abducted by the guys that are pushing this whole ghosting trend. Greg didn’t want to stop seeing you! Big corporations are doing human testing right in front of us, and we’re blind to it because they’ve convinced us that there’s no need to be worried about our significant others who literally have not been seen or heard from in months. There’s definitely nothing insidious going on. They weren’t kidnapped, and they’re not being held in Ghostanamo Bay. They’re just jumping on the quirky new dating trend.

That said, I feel like I have to confess something. Here’s a spooky personal anecdote you did not ask for and care nothing about. I went on a date a while back—which is terrifying enough as it is, I know, but believe me, it gets scarier—and it was fun enough. We were star-crossed employees at the Porsche festival (which is a real thing, yes); I was a humble caterer, and he was a television mechanic or sound system guy or something from out of town. And we had a pleasant meal. I learned quite a bit about this nice enough person. He’s a fan of the Bible, basketball and Thai food. And I mean, who isn’t?

But, being the emotionally unavailable shell of a human being that I am, I wasn’t in it for the long haul. So when I got the I-really-like-you-let’s-see-if-this-goes-somewhere text, I knew I had to break the news. And I almost did. So many times. I almost wrote a very nice and compassionate it’s-not-the-right-time message, and yet, I just didn’t. It took me six delusional months of thinking that I was going to write this text to finally accept that I was indeed a person capable of ghosting. I must say that I feel guilty about this. Spooky, right?

So Justin, devout television mechanic from San Diego, if you’re reading this fluff piece buried in the back of the Yale Daily News, I’m sorry I never texted you.

Folks, what’s the point here? What am I trying to tell you? Why have you read this far? For this sage piece of advice: this Halloween season, don’t ghost. Learn from my mistakes and from the mistakes of 80 percent of the dating pool. And together, with each poorly crafted breakup text that quite possibly does even more damage than saying nothing at all, the world can be a little less spooky of a place to live in.

 

Anna Gumberg | anna.gumberg@yale.edu