How many people from your wedding party do you still talk to?
This was a question floated to me the other day. At the moment, the answer is one and that’s because he’s my brother-in-law. There’s a phenomenon out there known as ghosting and we, as a society, are particularly good at it.
1.the appearance of a ghost or secondary image on a television or other display screen.
2.the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.
Val and I were friends with another couple for a year or two. Our kids played together. We had dinners, trips to the playground, they even watched our kids once which is not something we normally ask of anyone outside of family. One day, out of the blue, the calls and texts stopped.
I realized, after a while, we were ghosted.
Relevant magazine did an entire article on this, about how people in the church are skilled at ghosting. The entire concept of friendship has shifted over the years.
Digital communication has increased availability but decreased depth. Those we care about can be reached with a few taps of a phone screen. This has made our walls and armor quicker to deploy.
I worked for a financial company right out of college. One team had me on a 5 am to 1 pm schedule. It wasn’t horrible once I’d gotten used to it. I liked the people, thought I had fit in well, and it wasn’t too hard of a job. One day, HR called me into a meeting. The rep slid a printout of an email across the table. It was from the supervisor of the group saying about how I was a liability, didn’t fit in, and it wasn’t working out. He advised an internal move that I eventually completed. This was in 2008 and, eventually, I was laid off with a few million other people across the country.
I still have trouble trusting people. This creates an issue because we need people.
Writing is a solitary effort at heart. I loved the process of getting my MFA and working in writing groups but, in the end, it was always me and the story. It was my wall to climb. Depending on someone else requires trust and accessibility.
For Val, her background lends her to a different path. She handles things on her own. It is easier to just do it than to rely on someone else who could let you down.
Community is never easy. Humanity is not pretty or nice or politically correct. People let us down, they walk away for no reason. They leave us behind.
The trick is to not let your ghosts haunt you.
Because someone out there needs to hear from you today, a text or a phone call, a note of encouragement or just to know that you are there. Someone needs to be lifted up. Take a second a give it a try. You may find that, when you lift someone else up, you get lifted yourself.
We can climb out of the wreckage of ourselves and rebuild. We can rise above the mess. We can restart one day at a time and rewrite our stories. We can do it together.