Commentary

Everybody Ghosts, Sometimes

There seems to be a general consensus that “ghosting” – basically disappearing from someone’s life after a brief social media or text message, or with no warning at all – is not really acceptable behavior (the phrase derives from a not-at-all complimentary song by Katy Perry). However, like the good human beings we are we all seem to be guilty of doing the same thing we’re indignant about other people doing to us.

That’s according to a new survey of millennial Brits first reported by The Mirror, which found that large majorities of young people in the UK have both “ghosted” and been “ghosted” upon, defined in this case as “unfriending” someone via social media, text or email and then terminating all social media contact (in addition to severing real-life connections).

Overall, more than nine out of ten Brits ages 26-30 have been dumped via social media or text in a romantic relationship or friendship, and roughly the same proportion of Brits ages 21-25 have “ghosted” on someone else. That includes not just “unfriending” someone on Facebook but “unfollowing” them on Twitter, blocking access on WhatsApp, and breaking things off via email. Half of Brits under the age of 30 have used Facebook in particular to end a friendship.

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Young adults in the UK gave a whole slew of reasons for “ghosting” on former romantic relationships or friendships, including constant posting of selfies, gossiping or flirting with other people’s romantic partners, and dropping out of the social world after entering a relationship.

Back in 2013 a survey of 2,000 British adults ages 18-34 by YouGov and communications agency Diffusion found that 43% of respondents said they use Facebook to “confirm the end of a relationship.” That refers to a range of practices including “unfriending” the ex within a month of the relationship ending (42%), severing all online contact with the ex’s friends and family (31%), and purging all images of themselves and their ex (34%).

Another survey of 4,000 women around the world by AVG Technologies found that 19% of women ages 18-25 said they have ended a relationship by posting on Facebook. Meanwhile 38% of women in the same age-range said they have broken up via text message.

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