4/11/2024 - Entertainment and Well-being

Ghost-ear, the new shadow of love?

By Melissa Bargman

Ghost-ear, the new shadow of love?

"I did everything right, I don't understand what happened", "we were talking a lot, there was a good vibe, but from one day to the next he stopped answering me, did I say something he didn't like?", "he looks at my stories, he reacts to me, but he always stays there". These are just a few (very few) examples of what we have surely been told or felt in recent times when trying to establish a relationship (even if it is very superficial at first) through a digital platform.

These behaviors are so widespread that they have even been baptized, defined and are used daily in groups of all ages.

Let's get to know them a little in this dictionary of the anthropology of heartbreak:

  • -Ghosting: it is the best known phenomenon. It comes from the English word "Ghost" which means "ghost" and although there is not (yet) an official definition endorsed by the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy) it is used to define the behavior of "disappearing": to stop responding suddenly, for no apparent reason, as if the person had been "swallowed up by the earth".

Despite having massified in recent years, the term became known in 2015 when the American press described it as the method Charlize Theron used to end her relationship with actor Sean Penn. That same year one of the most reliable English-language dictionaries, Merriam-Webster incorporates it into its base with this meaning.

With the explosion in the use of applications and social networks to relate to each other, this practice deepened and, therefore, digital ghosting habits have begun to diversify. Some of them are:

  • - Zombieing or orbiting: occurs when a "disappeared" person returns from the "virtual afterlife" and resurrects by sending a message to the victim through some channel they used to communicate in life before their death.

  • - Breadcrumbing: "breadcrumbing" characterizes those people who "throw breadcrumbs" of attention through instant reactions to stories, posts, spontaneous chats in which it takes a long time (sometimes weeks) to respond. Breadcrumbs of affection never complete the main course but are the ingredient of a meal that will never be ready.

  • - Caspering: inspired by the iconic character "casper", it differs from ghosting because the disappearance takes place gradually. It manifests itself in responses that become increasingly less frequent, vague excuses to avoid plans, little interest in the other person's life.

  • - Love bombing: in English, love bombing is carried out by those people who, in the initial phase of the relationship, express disproportionately the feeling of affection and admiration for the other, excessively highlighting their virtues, their coincidences and painting a future full of plans and projects together. By exalting the victim's capabilities, it quickly generates a close bond but, once the boomer gets bored, it disappears like a lightning bolt that illuminates everything and turns off once the storm has passed.

  • - Benching: this involves keeping a person on a "bench" for a particular interest. Messages are sent very sporadically and on special occasions, to maintain the relationship for a certain reason (for advice on some topic, support in moments of weakness, work advice).

Digital Houdinis

These practices are no longer limited to the field of love relationships, but have become widespread in the workplace (not attending a job interview on the agreed day and time), in friendships ("pinning a friend", sending a message only for birthdays or special dates).

It is worth mentioning the psychological consequences for the people affected, as they feel they are victims of a scenario of manipulation of their feelings, anxiety due to the constant expectation of receiving the message, the attack on their self-esteem and the feeling of guilt for not having an explanation that allows a mental closure of the link.

Are these new ways of relating, do we have to prepare ourselves to talk to ghosts, are we less empathetic to each other's feelings? Undoubtedly, these ghosts are dangerous as they attack our psyche and once they disappear, neither the very Ghostbusters nor the most professional mediums are able to find them.

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Melissa Bargman

Melissa Bargman

Hi, I'm Melissa, Social Communicator and Professor of Comparative Legislation at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires. I am dedicated to the research of new technologies and their application in everyday life, their regulation, their opportunities and risks in society.

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