When I first heard that 80% of millennials have been ghosted I thought that’s what you get when you raise a generation of cowards with 1,000 pics of themselves on their phones.
For those unfamiliar with the ghost move, it is the ending of a relationship without any words or actions. It is a disappearing act where texts, phone calls, social media nudgings by someone who still believes they are in a relationship are all met with complete and utter silence. The person ending the relationship becomes a ghost; they are no longer there. They may as well have never existed in the first place.
Women reveal the last text they received from their ex. Post continues after video…
I still don’t understand AT ALL someone who can be in a relationship with someone: have sex with them, share stories of clueless parents, buy each other Calvin Klein underwear and then not even bother to return a Facebook message. For those who can’t find the words, there’s even been a script written by those modern day Tennysons, ABBA (Knowing me, Knowing you):
Breaking up is never easy, I know but I have to go
(I have to go this time
I have to go, this time I know)
Knowing me, knowing you
It’s the best I can do
Then I read some more about millennials. Then I talked some more to millennials. Then a millennial asked me why they don’t have my job yet and I started to understand more where this ghosting comes from.
Last year Millennials (those currently aged between 18-34) surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the world and they have a lot of shit to work out, through and be in.
Millennials are truly a generation of what you see is not what’s inside.
They’re the most educated, but find it hard to get a job. They are given more by their parents than any other generation, but have so much debt, wages that are stagnate and jobs that aren’t secure, so buying a house is often a dream.
They are the most prolific Instagram users (53% of Millennials use it), but research has found what fuels this use is narcissism. They really, really want those likes. Yet these narcissists are also the generation that admits to the most self-loathing. The Pew Research Centre in the US conducted a national survey last year and found that:
59% think they are self-absorbed
Around 50% say they are wasteful
43% say they are greedy
31% say their generation is cynical
Only 17% thought their generation was moral
(24% say they are responsible, 36% say they are hard-working).
So that ghosting may not be caused simply by cowardice. The Millennials life trajectory does not adhere to the simple cause and effect equation. There’s always something else inside mixing up the internal pot. Maybe the ghosting comes somewhat from cowardice but also from exhaustion. All these choices? Available all the time? All the stress? All the broken promises? All the images and lives coming at them, every minute of the day? Their hands go up in surrender and they slip under the covers and try to disappear.
Some have attributed the high rate of ghosting not to cowardice but to Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).
What other generation has had a better choice sitting in the palm of their hand 24/7? You can be in a relationship but your phone is still carrying Tinder or Grndr or the latest dating hook-up app with all those potentially perfect partners just a swipe away.
But again, there’s a contradiction in that explanation.
“With the popularity of ghosting as a means of breaking up with someone, you’d think millennials were trying to avoid settling down,” Fortune Magazine said.
“On the contrary, Plenty of Fish found that almost 75% of millennials use dating apps because they’re looking for a serious relationship, while 50% identified “just looking to hookup” as the biggest misconception about singles under the age of 30.”
In the end only the individual Millennial in the largest generation on earth knows why they can’t simply look at their shoes, look at another human they have been in a relationship with and look at their shoes again and say, “It’s not you it’s me. I just need some space. And, yes, of course we can still be friends.”
Despite all the selfies, all the sharing, all the knowing, when I look at a Millennial I know I’m not getting the whole picture.
I hope it’s not cowardice that’s at the core of ghosting. Millennials know what the right thing to do is – there is not a more aware generation in the world. I hope it’s not exhaustion either because they have a lot of life left to live.
I hope their insides start to match those amazing outsides I see a million pictures of everyday because ghosting is for people who should disappear into nothingness, not people who can – and will – change the world.