Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ghosting in the First Degree

My Friends and I at a High School dance

It was a bit rough when my high school girlfriend broke up with me. I remember her gentle sentences were laced with serrated edges and trite catch phrases like “we should date other people” and “we can still be friends.” But it was high school and the whole process of ending a relationship was new to both of us.

When my college girlfriend broke up with me it was a straight forward surgical cut. “It’s time for both of us to move on with our lives and the best of luck to you.” Short, clean, and honest.

Twin Cities Public Television TPT Building

When I got fired for the first and only time my boss sat me down and simply said “This isn’t working out.” I was out of a job but at least I got to my executioner.

Over the years, I’ve had a few friendships that started out promising enough but then the other party decided to end it with a constant series of excuses that finally convinced me we were no longer salon companions. It wasn’t an honest way of ending our friendship but at least I (finally) got the point.

Breaking up is never easy to do. But at least in the past most folks had the curtesy to speak their mind face to face or by the telephone. Nowadays some people have taken to ghosting. I guess it’s easier and requires less conscience then the old fashion way of facing reality.

I first heard of ghosting when Charlize Theron dumped her then boyfriend Sean Penn by simply disappearing from his life. Apparently it’s rampant among millennials. Statistics show that nearly 80% of millennials have experienced it. Along with new age Tinder and Snapchat, ghosting comes with the territory.  It’s one of the paradoxes of the new fast-paced digital dating culture.

If I were polite I’d agree with the argument that those folks are simply avoiders. They probably avoid any kind of confrontation at all costs. They certainly don’t want to deal with their own uncomfortable feelings. A quote I read says it all: ‘The emotion maturity that comes with giving the person you’re dealing with an ounce of common courtesy is not in their emotional vocabulary or repertoire.’ Well spoken.

Palm Springs Writers Expo

Since I started spending more time out west that old ghost of relationships gone south has raised its familiar head again. I am always seeking out opportunities where I can use my writing or speaking skills. Some proposals are met with silence while others are warmly embraced if the details can be worked out…at least at first.

What is onerous, yet unspoken, to some folks is the fact that I don’t spend twelve months in either place. For some of these potential partners that is a deal breaker. Yet it’s never explained that way. I try to be upfront about my love for both states and concentrated focus when I’m in either.  Yet for some people it’s either all the time or not at all.

Recently I was ghosted. It was nothing as dramatic as a termination of employment or cancellation of a contract. The group I was dealing with simply refused to answer my e-mails requesting a meeting to clarify where the group was heading. They do great work and it would have been wonderful to work with them on future projects. For reasons still unknown or understood by me they decided otherwise.

I scanned the newspapers. Yep, they were still in business. I reviewed their web site. Yep, they were still doing great work. So, they were still around…just not on my radar.

Of course, there are a dozen reasons why partnerships, joint ventures and other assorted collaborations come to an end. Members of the venture may have changed their mind about goals and objectives. Perhaps this particular joint venture no longer fit their criteria. There could have been a time shift or time crunch for future productions. Their production objectives may have changed and no longer fit my qualifications. The possible reasons are many and varied and probably legitimate.  Any and all were probably sound reasons for ending (what I thought was) a budding artistic relationship.

“It’s so Hollywood” my Palm Springs friends have told me even as I tried to explain that some of these past ventures were with Minnesota folks. “Minnesota Nice” and all that I argued but to no avail. Perhaps they’ve taken the refrain that my old boss used to recite whenever given the chance. “It’s just business” he said when he fired me. He got canned six months later and I’ve always wonder if he thought of that same trite phrase when it happened to him.

Perhaps it has been a good lesson for me. People with no spine always try to dodge the bullet but usually shoot themselves in the foot or blame the other party for their predicament. If they didn’t have the courage to tell me face to face that ‘it was over’ I doubt our joint ventures would have ended well.

At least my old girlfriends (bless their hearts) had more class than that.

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