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HARRIET BERKAL: GHOSTING - NO NEED TO COMMUNICATE BUT ALSO ZERO CLOSURE

by Harriet Berkal, Sept 20, 2021

  • HEY, WHERE ARE YOU?
  • HELLO?
  • HAVE I DONE SOMETHING TO OFFEND YOU? IF SO, PLEASE LET ME APOLOGIZE!

NO RESPONSE

When I think of quiet, a moment of pondering, I associate it with paying honour or respect to something or someone. We are taking a moment of silence.

A ………………………………. PAUSE.

In Israel, it would be the moment when scud missiles stop invading. That is very much a welcomed quiet.

In university, or at a concert, it would constitute listening attentively to the lecturer and/or performance, absorbing their message. You are in an altered zone.

All of these exemplify respectful, and intentional attention, to listen to hear poignant passages in our lives.

But now SILENCE has turned into a power to hurt or dishonour others.

To some, ghosting applies only to the dating scene, when a lover or acquaintance simply stops connecting and you are left wondering what is

wrong with you.

Technology has afforded us the luxury of avoiding any confrontational conversations and allows us to just disappear into cyberspace, abandoning all civility in our interactions with other humans.

Ghosting is occurring beyond the dating sector and it occurs within business, politics (think Premier and the media) and in all other sorts of settings.

Workplace ghosting, where job candidates and new hires vanish without so much as a call or email, is the latest idiosyncratic labour market that has emerged as the Canadian economy recovers from the impact of COVID -19 pandemic. (http://globalnews.ca/news/8340834/job-intervu=iew-ghosting-work-covid/)

We are living in a pandemic where one would hope kindness and decency would prevail. Sadly, it is not. In fact, I would say ghosting during the pandemic feels worse, as many are already lonely and isolated.

Family and friends are fractured with vaccine debates and interactions or the lack thereof.

Has anyone ever cut you out of their lives, simply by extinguishing any response to you via texts, emails, and the like? This is where you vaporize into a nonexistent entity, no longer viable, or desired, for any future interactions. But WHY?

Poof- you are gone! But there is no finality to it and no apology for any potential offence, is ever under consideration. This is the most offensive form of gaslighting even without a match!

What has occurred to common decorum? Have we become so defunct in human interaction, that it has become acceptable to be dismissive and ignore the existence of others?

Surely, we can do better than that!

A friend lost her mom and became executor. I warned her to strap herself in for a bumpy ride. Been there - done that. Initially she expected all to go smoothly. But alas, inheritance is a perfect example where others take issue with a loved one’s disbursement of an estate and think nothing of ceasing all future communications. Just send the cheque is all that is expected. Not even a thank you for taking on this role, is par for the course.

Once I helped someone, I thought to be a dear friend, who had fallen on hard times. I was brought up by distinguished role models who were always helping others, so it is part of my nature. But once bitten, twice shy.

I did what anyone else I thought would do to help a woman, whose husband had left and was raising an adult child with mental illness. It was obvious she was not functioning and was in a “broken” state. Who wouldn’t be?

I sent my guy over to shovel for her, my window cleaner to change out the storm windows, my other friend to help clean the house, and my dear handyman who is now deceased, to even bury her dead cat. We managed to get her income taxes completed for some 9-10 years for just over $1000.

Overall, it was the right thing to do, but what came next or didn’t- threw me in a downward spiral. What had I done to be treated like this?

There was never any response to any of my emails, my texts or phone calls. I was not searching for a thank you, but was desperate to find out what was going on? I had taken her cries for help at the drop of a hat. Others commended me for dealing with her.

Recently, I heard that her brother had passed, so I tried to send condolence flowers. She told the florist that she would not accept them coming from me. Now that is a really low blow. At this point I feel like I belong on a leper colony.

My therapist (yes many of us have them) surmised, that perhaps, my taking charge of her affairs in such an orderly fashion, made her feel even worse about herself- hence the disconnect. How on earth is that fair?

One would assume that I had done something terrible to this person. Was I supposed to sit back and wait for the electricity to be cut off? Others were doing nothing to help her. In fact, she was insecure to reveal to them the depths of her despair. I was there for her and yes, she had been there for me too, on several occasions. We would openly say that we loved each other and knew we could count on one another.

In my world, if you have an issue with someone whom you have known for over three decades, you sit down civilly and talk this out.

But social media has given a license to ghosting whereby people such as me, and countless others, are getting hurt.

Everyone has the right to not be friends with you for whatever reason, but I challenge them to be on the receiving line of SILENCE. It is a very lonely and sad place to be - especially if you haven’t a clue what has brought on this behaviour.

It can tarnish your natural inclination to ever help someone again. It can make you angry to be dismissed, without one last cigarette before you are sent out before a firing squad.

I find it beyond painful. I am embarrassed for those who conduct themselves in such a distasteful manner.

“Use your words” one of the first things we say to our children, as we raise them.

If you have had a cordial relationship that has lasted decades, you do not simply drop someone and dispose of them with such harshness.

Never have I ghosted anyone. Yes, I have ended relationships which were toxic in nature, but explained that perhaps it was time to part company. The door has typically been left open.

Rigidity is becoming worse during this pandemic we are all weary of.

But ironically, it is the time we really need to connect with one another.

Cutting others off is like sending them to the guillotine. Your pleas for compassion are lost on the data superhighway, never to be returned.

Or they were just never really true friends at all. Instead, maybe they just used you for your generosity, until it was no longer needed.

Tragic and cowardly I say.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Actually, it’s the lack of words, which goes well beyond the pale which can eat away at your core, if you let it.

 
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