Every once in a while, I think about the many people I’ve met on the internet who have come to be good friends. It’s a different world. As a young adult, before the internet, I could not have conceived that these types of connections were even possible. But children today are growing up taking these long distance relationships for granted. (With adequate supervision, I fervently hope.)

I’ve met several of these people face to face, and we are friends to this day. I’m going camping with one of them this summer. (Waving hello to Martin.)

But for all the good friends I’ve made, in the virtual world of Second Life, or via my blog, or on Facebook, there have been at least as many who have taken a piece of my heart and disappeared with it with no explanation whatsoever. Lorraine, Steve, John, Vicki, Brian… yeah, I’m talking to all of you.

I don’t have a problem with them not being in my life anymore. The choice is entirely theirs. Some friendships are annual, others are perennial. I get that. What I have a problem with is the lack of closure. For all I know, they’re dead. That’s a horrible feeling. It’s cruel to make someone grieve when grieving may not be the appropriate response.

There’s something about being able to hide in cyberspace that brings out the worst in people. I strongly suspect that none of them would be this rude face to face. And yeah, explaining why you’re ending a relationship is never fun. It would be tempting to skip that step entirely. It’s understandable to want to avoid the awkward stuff. But people have a right to their closure. They have a right to understand why. They have a right to learn from their experiences.

Depriving people of such rights without so much as a by your leave reveals something rather ugly about you. Just sayin’.


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10 thoughts on “Ghosting

  1. Samuel Ramirez

    I have had similar situations Barb. I still “mourn” the loss of friends and have moved on and have forgotten me without any kind of closure or goodbye. I think I would’ve respected them more if they had bluntly told me to get lost. I was left with a sense of sadness thinking that I had done something wrong. But, these friends and I never had any kind of argument or had made a decision to end the friendship. On the position side, the end of these friendships led me to rekindle old friendships that I had neglected and to focus on other things in life. It still hurts sometimes though. Sometimes I still think to myself “I wonder how my friend is doing…” “Why did they forget me?” But, I have a feeling they have long forgotten me and so I hope to someday move on and not worry about them anymore.

  2. Ah, but friendships tend to come and go. People change, circumstances change, and people don’t always fit together the way they used to.

    I don’t worry about lack of closure, though. Friendships aren’t like marriages, where you get together for specific reasons (love, sex, and sometimes children) and (theoretically) live together for the rest of your life. Without that kind of planning and commitment involved, there’s no compelling reason to formally end things. No, friendships are much more flexible, changing with the times, allowing for all sorts of developments and disruptions.

    Which leads to the other thing about friendships: we don’t plan for them to end. As you put it, some are annual, some are perennial. Consequently, we still think of people we may not have seen for years as friends, even if it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing them anytime soon.

    At the same time, there are those friendships that no longer serve us, whether it’s because we have changed, or because the other person has—or even because the friendship is simply not good for us. Those we typically don’t worry about—because why should we focus so much energy on something that’s bad for us?

    Either way, my experience is that formally ending a friendship is weird. It’s too much like ending a romantic relationship—somebody walks away feeling hurt (even if the friendship wasn’t functioning by that point). It’s better to fade away than to burn out…

    1. Yes, it can be awkward, but in my view, if you ever were friends at all, you owe that person an explanation at the very least. Even ended friendships are opportunities for growth and learning. And it truly sucks not knowing if someone is dead or alive or in need of your help. Sometimes the easier way isn’t the best way.

  3. lyn sutton

    There is another side…being the one who disappears and no one notices.
    Just know if I disappear it will be for one of the following reasons:
    1. My mind and/or body has ceased to function adequately to respond.
    2. My computer and/or internet connection has ceased to function and I have inadequate funding to restore them.
    3. You’ve taken out a restraint order.
    4. I’ve been kidnapped by your arch nemesis who’s taking out all your loyal followers.
    5. I’m dead. (I’ll leave instructions to have you notified so you’ll have closure.)
    Yeah, some of us are hard to get rid of even with your permission or insistence. 🙂

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