December 23, 2021

Ghosting: Lack of Courtesy or a Gen Z Thing?

I’m infamous among my friends for being passionate but also someone who can be extremely detached.

I’m always looking ahead. I like saying that I never look back. What’s past is over. Finished. It’s never coming back. So why worry about what you cannot fix? Live for the present. And always plan for the future. That’s me.

I also don’t like watching movies or TV shows that are older than five years. I have zero interest in watching black and white classics. Sorry. But I find them boring. I genuinely could not finish a classic like “Casablanca.” I know, I know. I’m a philistine. I also don’t cry when I watch movies. I’m deeply moved, and I love to discuss, argue, and have discussions about a film or a book or a piece of art—but I don’t cry.

I also love technology. I like social media. I like going outdoors and trekking and traveling, but I can also stay put in one single place for weeks and binge-watch Netflix and be fine. I’m not a whiner about how “technology has ruined modern lives.” I, frankly, cannot fathom a life without technology.

I’m also not much into reminiscing about the “good old days.” My concept of a “good old day” is last week.

So, no. I don’t do nostalgia.

I also don’t get hassled when teenagers roll their eyes at me or are dismissive or groan when I use words like “lit” or “bae” or “obvi” or “salty” or “snatched” and more. I have certain friends who are never ever on time. And I’m the kind who is always 15 minutes early for an appointment. But I don’t sweat it. I have a friend who is always 30 minutes late. So, when we meet, I give her an appointment time that’s 30 minutes early.

Basically, I’m what a former student said about me, “Totes super chill.” I’m always easy peasy, y’all.

Or so I thought.

For the longest time, I thought I was clinical, pragmatic, and matter-of-fact about every aspect of my life.

Until I wasn’t.

Turns out, even I have a line that I wouldn’t like anyone to cross. And that when it came to certain aspects of etiquette—and I hate saying this—I found myself being old-fashioned.

Let me explain.

A few weeks back, my tenant moved out of my apartment (which is opposite a college). Normally I have kids lining up to rent the place when a tenant leaves. But I was worried last month because of COVID-19. Luckily, even though the whole world went online (especially schools and colleges) since early 2020, colleges have started to go offline over the past few months. I was still worried—so imagine my shock when I had close to 40 students who contacted me to rent my place.

So, it was all good. I finally made my decision to rent the place to three guys. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was clinical about making that decision. Reason one, they were literally the first ones who called me and unless the folks turn out to be psychos, I like rewarding those who call first—the first come, first served concept. And reason two, all three of them are getting their master’s in film studies.

The landlord in me perked up when I heard that because a significant part of these kids’ curriculum is based on the field. So even if colleges went online again, these guys needed to be on campus to shoot their films. While a part of me balked at the thought of renting to—not one, not two, but three guys (like really…cleanliness might just not be in their vocabulary)—I met the boys, liked them, and rented the place to them.

Again, so far so good.

But during the few days when I was inundated with phone calls from kids who wanted to rent my place, one girl stood out. She was from out of town and a junior. Unluckily, her first two years were online because of Covid, and when she finally needed to get back on campus, all of the in-campus housing and dorms were already booked for freshmen and sophomores.

And the fact that she was an out-of-towner added to the pressure since she needed to find a place without being able to see it in person. Not to mention, my apartment was literally the only one available in a safe and gated community. The college is directly opposite my apartment building, and while there are other buildings available, mine has 24/7 security and CCTV.

This girl was desperate, and when she contacted me, she begged me to give her top priority. I promised her that I would consider her. But deep down I wasn’t sure. She was a software student, and in the event Covid struck again, she’d go back to her hometown and easily continue online. So, I would be stuck with no tenant.

I was honest with her and told her my quandary. But she still implored me to consider her. And it wasn’t just her. Her parents contacted me. Her friends contacted me. Her grandma called me at 5:30 a.m. to make a case for her granddaughter. I listened and genuinely wanted to help. But in the end, my loyalty to the boys who contacted me first and their academic major outweighed all my considerations, and I went with them.

But I called this young girl back and promised I would do my best and get a place for her. During this period, I’d contacted a local real estate agent and made a case for this girl. He, in turn, assured me that getting an apartment for a girl in the same building complex was doable. I contacted the young girl again, connected her with the agent, and asked her to let me know if there was anything else I could do for her. She thanked me profusely.

I was more than happy to help this young girl out. I didn’t do it because I wanted something in return. I didn’t do it to feel like Mother Teresa. I didn’t even want her thank yous. I genuinely wanted to help this girl because I’ve traveled all over the world and lived, studied, and worked in foreign countries and know how hard it is to get to a new city/country, find an apartment, and settle down.

I genuinely did not expect anything from this young woman.

Except…an update on what happened.

I hoped she’d contact me and let me know how things played out.

A few weeks later, I had to speak with the real estate agent about something else, and he told me that he’d found this girl a place the very next day and that she had already moved into the apartment.

But the girl herself never updated me on what happened. The same young girl who phoned me, messaged me, Zoomed me over 10 times in a span of three days, whose parents, friends, and other family members contacted at all ungodly hours—the girl to whom I owed nothing but I still did what I could—didn’t bother to let me know how things had played out.

And I—the chill, typically nonchalant, give-zero-f*cks-about-anything person—was pissed.

Look, maybe this girl would’ve found this agent on her own. Or not. But given that I introduced him to her, couldn’t she call me one time after the fact and let me know that things worked out for her?

Is it too much to ask that she let me know what happened? I’m genuinely asking. This is a genuine question. Isn’t it basic decency to update someone who helped you?

And increasingly, I find that this is happening all the time. It’s like people have no common courtesy left anymore.

If I had a dollar for every single time I get phone calls, emails, letters, personal one-on-one ambushes in hallways from students who want me to write them a recommendation letter for grad school, well, I’ll have a few dollars.

Over the past six or seven years, I have written glowing recommendation letters to well over 150 students, and almost every single one of them has gotten into a college of his/her choice. And I can, literally, count three students—yes, just three kids—who’ve contacted me after they actually got admitted to a college to update me on the same. The same kids who inundate me with messages do not see it fit to apprise me of their situation after they get their recommendation letter from me.

How do folks go from hounding you to complete and utter indifference once their job with you is done?

Again. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want their gratitude. I don’t want folks to feel indebted to me. I just want to be updated. Is that really too much to ask? My friends/peers ask me to move on and not stress about stuff like this too much. I don’t stress, but I do wonder about this and, occasionally, feel hurt.

I’m genuinely curious about this phenomenon. Is this a generational thing? Are all millennials like this? Is this a Gen Z thing? Or is it not generation specific? Meaning, is everyone like this? Circa 2021, is this a way of life? Is this rude? Is this normal? Am I being overly sensitive? These are sincere questions.

Have you had similar experiences? Can you help me figure this out?





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