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March 26, 2019

Ghosting People – social practices, karmic debts

16 unreturned texts…8 missed calls…4 Facebook likes unreciprocated…a blocked email later and we weren’t friends anymore…

Clean and efficient, right?

Not exactly…

Ghosting people creates a real and immediate mental schism, a little bit of karmic debt for both parties – the ghostee gets a little or a lot of lingering painful confusion around why a relationship ended, while the ghoster gets an entrenched opinion, cemented resentment, and the occasional or often internal nagging about the relationship (if only the memory that they did this to someone).

I know precisely because I’ve done it.

If you’re honest, you’ve done it, and – I’m willing to wager a dollar – we’ve all been on the receiving end of other’s doing it.

Let’s get past the shame of it and ask ourselves what’re we willing to do about it?

Several years ago one could go a day without replying to an SMS – today’s “text”. Without doing anything about it, we let yesterday’s “users” – today’s social media and screen “addicts” – dictate the societal terms of communication to us.

As yogis we might be wise to consider the potential unintended consequence of an incipient habit?

(While we’re on the topic, email has two purposes – professional communication and porn registration. Please stop copying people so thoughtlessly on group emails – we don’t all have to hear your political shit, see your photos from vacation, or be connected with your whole community, some of whom don’t like each other, much less me.)

What’s next – we break up with people by simply switching our “relationship status” and blocking them on social media?

Technology has made us into social cowards, myself included, and I’d like to take this moment to apologize to those that I’ve ghosted, and to urge us that it’s not too late to take the power back…

I’m willing to acknowledge that I’ve been an asshole around this particular issue, and I’m willing to try and do better.

I’m willing to try not to avoid the tough conversations or goddamn difficult interactions, and I’m definitely willing to remember that it’s not necessarily more ‘ahimsic’ to just not call somebody back instead of addressing the difficulties in a relationship.

Please don’t mistake me, I’m not being sanctimonious – I don’t urge a revision of these practices out of some misguided sense of decorum, or because I’m a bleeding heart yogi who want’s y’all to be nicer to one another…

I’m a skeptic who just wants to make life easier. For myself mostly. And, perhaps, by extension of personal application, yourself.

Every time we ghost someone we leave a dangling participle of an interaction, some unfinished business hanging out there in the universe…

On karma Buddha said, “This arises, that becomes.”

One of the karmic consequences of ghosting is that we end up thinking about the people we’ve ghosted more often than we would if we’d simply told them straightforwardly what we had wrong with them.

It’s far more likely that if I’d confronted them I’d at least look back with an egoic pride at how wonderfully I’d zinged them before breaking it off with them.

When we ghost someone it’s because we’re trying – on some level – to avoid discomfort, pain, and inconvenience…shying away from generalized unpleasant arising is not a unique characteristic – it’s a human universal.

From that place, let’s invite forgiveness, and from that place we can make everyone’s life easier.

Like Mark Twain counseled around telling the truth, “…it’s easier because you don’t have to remember what you said…” we might consider that, in the long run, simply telling someone off is the easier and less harmful path.

In other words, if someone’s been an asshole feel free to tell them. You’ll be doing the whole universe a favor by delivering this sort of immediate and actionable feedback. And you never know – they just may surprise you by taking ownership for their actions setting the stage for a much more pleasant becoming for everyone.

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Justin Kaliszewski