A week ago, I was in various stages of conversation with four different men. I had never met any of them in person; they were all online connections, whether from a dating site or social media.
Today, every conversation has been shut down by one of us ghosting. And when I say ghosting, I mean . . . well, ghosting. Just disappearing, with no explanation, no “thanks, but no thanks,” no acknowledgment of any connection, albeit cyber-slash-digital in nature.
Welcome to the world of disposable people where issuing the silent treatment is the preferred method of saying “sayonara.” Let me introduce you to the four who came in and out of my life like a fucking vapor this week:
Bachelor #1: We met on a dating site, had a few things in common, including mad bantering skills and a love for college football, and we hit it off great via texts. Things started groovy. Then they turned naughty with a sudden onslaught of dick pics. I got four of them within two days that were then followed up with two videos of the dude jacking off. In a bathroom. With his kids yelling at him from another room. Why the video? Because I wouldn’t drop everything and launch FaceTime to watch him spank the monkey in real time. So he recorded it.
I ghosted. He ghosted. I think it was a mutual ghost. I had seen his penis from every angle, but I can’t tell you his last name. I don’t know what to do with that, but it feels “ewww,” so disappearing just seemed right.
Bachelor #2: A world-class traveler and mostly retired in his early 40s, this guy looked promising. He’d just gotten back from Europe when our conversation began. He was successful, hot, lived life with a very flexible schedule and a sense of adventure, and seemed intriguing. We had some fun texts back and forth for a few days, and while he lived about three hours from me, he was planning on being near my city for a month while he took care of some business stuff in July. Awesome – I was looking forward to meeting in person.
Then nothing. Just abrupt silence. He ghosted and I was left looking at my phone in bewilderment. Sometimes you can tell when things aren’t grooving, right? When a conversation seems stiff or unnatural. That wasn’t the case, but still–he disappeared. Damn.
Bachelor #3: Another dating site prospect, this one was 18 years younger and clear about his goal: To find a fuck buddy. Normally I would have shut this down pronto – I’m not a coug and meaningless sex without attachment is not my forte. But he was hot and I was running low on Vitamin P (figure that one out), so I toyed with the idea of having a boy toy. That is, until a texting conversation took place where he suggested I needed to “submit” to him (WTF?). And he wouldn’t stop talking about playing “hide his penis.” And he blew off a date we’d made but insisted we hadn’t (but we had). And then said I was becoming a “hassle.”
Um, buh-bye. Delete contact. Next.
Bachelor #4: This is the one I’m most puzzled by. We met on a social network, started chatting, and we seemed to hit it off. At first we talked about basic stuff, then our messages turned fun, flirty and sexy. We even made a plan to meet each other when I would be in his city next month. There are several miles between us, but at the very least, I was down to meet a new friend. He was attractive, successful, funny and witty, and I could tell from our messages (quite a few of them) that we’d have great chemistry in person. A few days ago, he sent a fun, flirty and very sexy text that left me a little breathless at the end and looking forward to our in-person rendezvous. I returned the favor.
Crickets. He went silent and just disappeared.
What. The. Hell. How ya gonna leave me a steamy text one day, then ghost the next without a word? No “sorry, Sienna, I met someone else who’s 2,000 miles closer.” No “I decided I just don’t have time to keep up with our sexy little cyber affair.” Not even a “frankly, my dear, you suck at sexting.” Just crickets.
How have we become this–a society where we have no regard for the person on the other end of the texting thread? Or phone call? Or Facebook page? And let me be clear: I’m as guilty as the next person of just walking away and ghosting without a good-bye or “thanks for chatting, but this isn’t going to work.”
Somewhere along this road of digital connections and pseudo cyber relationships, we’ve lost sight of the fact that real people are involved. It’s easy to fade away when you don’t have an emotional connection and something (someone) better comes along. I get that, and I’m not trying to make more of a texting conversation than it is.
But I am saying, perhaps we should begin to be more thoughtful in our interactions–even the cyber ones. To look beyond our computer and mobile screens and visualize a human being on the other end. To treat people the way we’d want to be treated–with respect. If we’re chatting and you don’t want to any longer, okay. Say so. And I’ll do the same.
What if we actually approached each other, even digitally, as if we were real people with legit emotions, not just as blow-up dolls or soulless spam bots void of feelings and thoughts?
I’m preaching as much to myself as anyone – I can think of at least four men I’ve ghosted on in the past year who didn’t deserve it. A few who I actually met, then decided we weren’t a match. Men who deserved an explanation as to why I didn’t want to continue, not to be discarded without a word or explanation.
So let’s all agree to be kind. Or at least respectful. How about that? Even to the guys who send unsolicited dick pics. Even to the people who rub us the wrong way. Even to the jerks and the crazies and the ones we have zero connection with. I will if you will.
Let’s agree to be decently human, if for no other reason than it makes us better. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all hope to be?