What does it mean to ghost someone?

Ghosting is essentially cutting off all communication channels, and disappearing without giving a valid explanation.

Ghosting is more attributed to the digital sphere than the physical. Unplugging from the internet and disappearing from all social media platforms is considered ghosting. The term is also associated with romantic relationships where the couple uses social media to communicate. In cases where one partner disappears from a chatting platform, for example, Whatsapp, for a long time, the partner who remains is ghosted. Although it is a fairly new phenomenon, ghosting is something that has been around for some time.

People take a break from social media for various reasons. People may disappear to clear their heads, find new perspectives and meaning in  life. Although people disappear from digital platforms for various reasons, ghosting has negative impacts for people on the receiving end. Psychology Today (2015) states that, “For many people, ghosting can result in feelings of being disrespected, used and disposable”. People often disappear with little consideration of the impact they are leaving in their wake..

Human beings are inherently social beings and feel the need to connect and be a part of a larger community. Ghosting is a form of social rejection. Being rejected is painful.

According to Psychology Today, “Social rejection activates the same pain pathways in the brain as physical pain” (Psychology Today 2015).

Rejection leaves people feeling worthless and unwanted.

Ghosting can be tricky at times. Because we live in a digital world, disappearance cannot always be attributed to rejection. People may not be responding to texts because something bad might have happened to them. They could be in hospital, or going through grief.

Ghosting is definitely unkind and inconsiderate. However, before making assumptions that people have ghosted you, first make sure they are in good health and  doing well.