Is ghosting spreading from the dating scene into the world of work?

In an online age where people are replaceable and disappearance is easy, is ghosting something that we should just get used to?

Ghosting, by definition, is ‘the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly, and without explanation, withdrawing from all communication’. Generally associated with the world of dating, there have more recently been reports of businesses giving prospective employees the silent treatment and successful recruits simply not turning up to work, suggesting that ‘ghosts’ are creeping into other aspects of our lives.

According to a study, approximately 25 per cent of people said they’ve been ghosted previously, whilst 20 per cent also admitted to vanishing from the inbox of their date. And with the increasing popularity of online dating, it’s clear that the growth of the ‘ghost’ in the realm of romance isn’t something that’s likely to be suppressed soon. The chances are, a Tinder match has no connection with your social circle and with the option to set your location radius to up to a hundred miles, you can easily avoid bumping into an angry ghosting victim at your local pub.

Perhaps ghosting is just a natural progression of our parents’ experiences of being stood up, a human attempt to avoid confronting the awkwardness of explaining a lack of romantic interest or availability. Undeniably, the disregard for somebody’s feelings can take its toll on their self-esteem, as ‘the only thing worse than being broken up with is realising that someone didn’t even consider you worth breaking up with’. The lack of clarity is disorienting and you may be left questioning whether you’ve actually been dumped or not, leaving you to question yourself rather than your romantic compatibility with your date. But romance is rarely straightforward, and maybe ghosting is just a modern addition to the messiness and madness of searching for love.

In the professional world, you might expect people to act a little more, well, professionally. Yet, research has found that around 53 per cent of UK workers felt they had been ghosted by an employer during the interview process. And it seems that prospective employees are giving as good as they get, with 14 per cent of recruiters saying that they had been ghosted by a candidate. Tinder and LinkedIn, it seems, share an important characteristic; a wealth of choice. The average job attracts 250 CVs, which may explain the common experience of employees not receiving a response to their applications. The internet allows potential employees to apply to hundreds of jobs each week and turning down interview offers takes time and effort, which could be spent finding a job they actually want.

When communication is conducted through dating apps and email, basic rules of respect and social responsibility are often broken down. When you can’t see the anger or upset in the face of your date or interviewee, they’re easier to disregard. The lines between accepted social norms and rudeness are blurred by the screens in front of our eyes, as one ghosting culprit in the romantic realm convinces himself, ‘it’s all the fault of the toxic dating culture we’ve created’, but now it’s started to spread through other aspects of modern culture.

With this in mind, there’s one simple rule to follow which I believe would benefit everybody to follow – once you’ve met somebody (whatever the circumstance), don’t disappear without explanation. The person you sat opposite for over dinner for three hours might not be your cup of tea, and the candidate you interviewed may not fit the job, but it’s common courtesy to offer some form of explanation. It’s simple really, you’ve shown the interest, now send the ‘I’m sorry but…’ message.

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