Monthly Archives: October 2014

On Ghosting and Transitioning into Urban Life

Last night, I ‘ghosted‘ out of an event and no one noticed.

Originally I hated that term and posted this thought on facebook (blockquoting myself so it segregates properly) –

Going to the argument made towards the end, if I were at a family gathering and I ghosted that would be incredibly rude, since my presence is important to them and I say goodbye as acknowledgement that they are important to me. If I were at an event with only my closest friends and I ghosted that would still be rude. If I were at an event with my closest friends + x, where x is an arbitrarily small number of people, and ghosted still rude.

Event = closest friends + x + y, where y is an arbitrarily small # of ppl = still rude

Event = closest friends + x +y +z where z is an arbitrarily small # of ppl = still rude

Eventually event = n, which is the summation of the total number of people necessary to be defined as a ‘party,’ where apparently no one really cares for my presence at this event, and, as a guest of this event, I apparently don’t care for anyone else’s presence, then why am I at this event?

But now I see this term a little differently.

It’s truly humbly to be living in an environment that for the first time no one cares about your presence. I can say anything to almost anyone and they won’t remember it the next day, maybe not even the next hour. I think ghosting even means that there is a type of people who enjoy going to events, but it doesn’t matter with who, it’s the experience that is of primary importance. The acceptance of ghosting here in a big city has flipped the entire model of how I am used to operating in society, and perhaps is the key to why transitioning into this urban environment has been so difficult.

The ability to ghost provides a greater level of freedom in a way. As a Muslim woman, I’m used to having every action scrutinized (and generally brought to negative light). Here, freedom seems to be defined as doing what you desire as long as it harms no one else. No one cares unless you do something harmful. As a result, I can do almost anything with almost anyone at almost anytime. I’m not used to this level of freedom, I have yet to take advantage of it, but it’s easy to see how others have taken it to accomplish goals they would otherwise not have been able to elsewhere.

It also means that the etiquette here is different as well. In a small town, it would be rude to leave an event without saying goodbye, to at least your close friends, since consideration there is giving people your time. Saying goodbye in a way acknowledges their presence at the event. You show them that they are important enough in your life to have their presence recognized, and to not leave without at least a greeting. Here, where everyone in a subconscious way humbly acknowledges their lack of importance in each other’s lives, perhaps it is more polite to save people time.

The urban life definitely lives up to its stereotype of promoting individualism over a communal environment. I can keep reading a lot of articles on how this is dangerous for one’s mental health as it induces loneliness and substantially decreases empathy, or I can figure out a way to take advantage of this – take my time here to define and pursue my own aspirations.

Ghosting is the term that I’ve been looking for to define my experience here in NYC, that differs so greatly from life as a small town girl.

I do have many unanswered questions though

  1. Is it possible to develop meaningful relationships here? If no one wants you to care for them, then how do you develop love?
  2. Is it possible to find meaning – something so easy to do in a small town environment, and seemingly impossible here?
  3. If no one cares, how do you express emotions in a healthy manner – the positive, the negative, the in-between?
  4. Is charm more important than love here? I’m not used to this either.
  5. How do I properly define consideration in an urban environment? – I still think I’m at the tip of the iceburg here.
  6. And a question that’s still amorphous and forming in my head – why does one go about caring for the larger causes here, but not for the individual? It seems paradoxical, since the individual is of importance here, but there seems to be a trickle-down theory going about with solving the big solutions that will eventually reach the individual. Idk, just leaving this here so I can come back to it and turn it into something that makes sense later..
  7. I have a ton more but it’s past my writing time.