"Let's Get a Meal Sometime": Ghosting at Dartmouth

by Nelly Mendoza-Mendoza | 10/3/18 2:15am

Do you ever find yourself using your phone when walking to class to avoid making eye contact with the girl you met to last week, because you don’t know whether she will say ‘hi’ or not? This might be unintentional ghosting. Ghosting can be best defined as the act of actively or passively avoiding communication with someone without being specific about your intentions for the future of the certain relationship. 

There are different levels of ghosting, from mild to more severe. 

Level I. Taking a long time to respond. Communication might feel forced or lacking in effort. 

Level II. Never replying but still seeing someone’s messages.  Add an extra level if the ghoster has their read receipts on. 

Level III. Completely cut off and disconnected. 

David Ringel ’19 said that people ghost others in part because they feel like they won’t see the other person again.

“There’s not a lot of accountability, or people think it does not mean that much to the other person,” Ringel said. 

One of the most common kinds of ghosting is related to romantic relationships. Kristin Winkle ’18 for example, described how she does not really like ghosting people, but has done so because the other person did not really understand that she was not interested. Winkle has ghosted people in situations when the other person has not altered their level of communication.

“I end up replying the bare minimum,” she said.  

However, she also mentioned how some friendships and relationships just naturally fade away. Winkle believes that it is easy to know if the friendship is no longer strong when both people are not engaged in the interaction. 

Hugh Mac Neill ’20 said that in a big city, it might be more common to go on a date with someone and never see them again if you are not interested. However, because Dartmouth is so small, it is almost unavoidable to run into people you have ghosted in class or on a night out.

Ringel echoed a similar sentiment. 

“You meet someone, and you ultimately run into them the next day because that’s how Dartmouth works, and then they don’t say ‘hi.’ We totally know each other. I don’t know why they don’t just say ‘hi,’” he said.  

There are different types of ghosting, however. Paula Lenart ’20, for example, mentioned how Dartmouth students often ghost each other for different reasons. 

Lenart believes that due to Dartmouth’s small size, most people know each other on some level, even though it may not be well, and explained that not saying hello is part of the Dartmouth culture. Lenard noticed a lot of people adopt this kind of behavior, even when students come from different cultures where saying hello or making eye contact with someone is considered courteous. 

When asked why people ghost each other, she mentioned several different points, such as the potential awkwardness that could come from saying hi to someone you do not know well. Thus, the safe option seems to be to not say ‘hi.’ 

On the other hand, Mac Neill said that people might ignore each other because if you were to say hi to everyone you have ever met at Dartmouth, it could mean that you would spend your whole day greeting people. Thus, sometimes some students might choose to not say ‘hi’ to everyone they have met. However, this trend might be unhealthy in the long run, as it may lead people to miss out on potential friendships. 

Ringel added that a common theme at Dartmouth is students not following up on plans, such as getting a meal. He emphasized the importance of following up with promises, because even when they may not seem like a big deal, they might be to someone else. 

“The aspect of connection is very important, and when you ghost people it makes them feel like they are not that important,” Ringel said. 

Ringel also added that he prefers to say hi when he remembers a person than to not. He is also trying to be better about following through with his plans. 

Another type of ghosting is ignoring people whom you have met before, but so long ago that you do not know if they remember you.  There is a window of opportunity after meeting someone where greeting them can become a norm. 

Technology has made ghosting a common occurrence. Now you can just ignore someone on your phone, making it obvious that you are no longer interested, instead of telling them face to face. Ignoring someone’s texts, social media or calls is basically like sending an ‘I am not interested’ message. It seems like the more connected we are, the easier it is to send a message to someone that you are no longer interested.