Ghosting: an innovative trend made possible by the age of technology, allowing the apathetic termination of relationships without having to so much as lift a finger. Whilst mostly associated with dating and a symptom of our fast-paced tinder-swiping society, to be ghosted by friends in the semi-public group chat is a lesser known heartbreaking and humiliating experience. To be candid, this happened to myself last year. It was embarrassing, upsetting, confusing and infuriating. As a digital form of social exclusion (along with my crippling self-doubt and aversion to conflict), the thought of resolving the situation and getting closure seemed impossible. It took a lot of time, but with some cathartic self-reflection and a little help from friends still around, healing was made possible. If you have had the similar misfortune, then consider these 5 steps on how to respond to being ghosted in the group chat:
Assess the Situation
Be honest with yourself about whether you have done anything to hurt or offend the people who have ghosted you. Unlike one-to-one ghosting, which may be due to a bad mood or the classic case of the ‘silent treatment’, the group chat ghost is an arranged, systematic shun, and, if provoked, would likely be because of a serious mistake. But if you’re reading this article it can be assumed that this isn’t the case.
This step should be thought out carefully. It is easy to respond to hurt feelings with anger, but there could be some honest confusion leading to either a) the sudden silence and therefore assumed creation of a new group chat, or b) the disappearance and therefore removal from a group chat (or in my case, both). If you are still able to communicate, then calmly ask whether something might be up, and suggest a casual plan. If the silence continues, unfortunately the friendship is dead. This is horrendously painful and leads to step 3…
Whilst it may not be the healthiest or most advisable, we may as well not kid ourselves and pretend that obsessing over the situation is avoidable. Rather than fighting it, allow your mind to go wild. You’ll probably try to remember every little detail leading up to the ghosting, who said what, where, when, why and how. I advise you take on this step with a friend who still has your back, as they will help to reaffirm your greatness and sanity.
You have basically just been dumped by multiple important people in your life, and avoiding the pain is impossible. Just like any romantic breakup, friendship breakups wreak havoc on our emotions. Everybody mourns differently, but a good tactic is to first allow yourself to feel the heartbreak, but eventually compartmentalise the past-friend and present-friend as two entirely different people. This allows you to retain and cherish happy memories whilst ultimately letting go of those who have hurt you.
Remember the Important Things
Take some time to realise that having people in your life who are willing to cut you out in such a heartless way are not worth having. While you may never get a solid answer as to why the group chat ghosted you, the fact is that as time goes by and circumstances change, people grow up and drift apart. You will make new friends and let go of old ones. For the special few who stick around through it all – cherish them. These are the ones worth holding onto. If ever in future a member of the group chat tries to get back in contact, hear them out, and use your own discretion to determine whether their attempt at reconciliation is genuine or not. It could be worth rebuilding the friendship if their explanation is reasonable. But remember, your worth is determined by your own judgement, and no one else’s.