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Friendship Ghosting Is Real, Here's How To Deal With It

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Social media leads to as many hurt feelings as the playground ever did

We've pretty much all been there: Maybe it's a friend ignoring our messages; maybe they're not liking our posts anymore; maybe we realize they've unfollowed us entirely. If we're lucky, we can rationalize it: It was an accident, we tell ourselves, and move on with our day, neuroses-free.

But a lot of us will overanalyze it. If we know the person in real life, we'll scroll back through our last interactions, wondering what we did wrong. Sometimes these social media slights truly don't mean anything, but a lot of the time, they do—especially since, increasingly, we live out entire friendships online.

While we are all very familiar with the idea of ghosting in the romantic sense—when someone you thought you had something with stops communicating with you, too cowardly to let you know it's going nowhere; and so, you're left picking at clues where there are none, blaming yourself for it going sour. But what about when it happens in non-romantic relationships? The internet has made it easier to maintain relationships than ever, but it's a double-edged sword in that it's also very easy to end them without ever having to break the difficult truth to someone that, well, you just don't like them anymore.

An unfollow in itself might not mean much, sure. But when conversations have already been petering out, when someone has snubbed your invite to hang out a few times, it's often the final nail in the coffin. I spoke to Nikki, who told me that her IRL best friend ghosted her after Nikki had experienced a bout of bad mental health. After a while, Nikki says, her former best friend stopped answering her calls and texts and unfriended her on everything. This, understandably, damaged Nikki's self-esteem: "I felt rubbish, because I guess I'd been cut off based on the fact I experience mental illness? It's so damaging to be cut off for any reason, let alone for something you have no control over. It made me feel ashamed of my experiences and like I wasn't good enough".

This might all seem very "millennial problems," but Catherine, who is 42, experienced this with a longtime friend. Not only did this friend start changing plans on Catherine, but then also, she left Catherine on read receipts, so that Catherine could see that texts were being read but not replied to. When Catherine tried to confront the issue, asking her friend if everything was okay between them, she got no response. It escalated to the point where Catherine reached out to her friend's husband "to make sure she was okay," but he didn't reply and eventually also deleted her off Facebook. While this behavior hurt, Catherine looks at it rationally: "Initially, I was concerned as to what I'd done, but if someone isn't willing to discuss it—whether by text or in person, then I don't have time to think about it any further. I find the behavior very strange and attention-seeking, and it must be terribly draining for her."


The internet has made making friends easy, but with that is the message that everyone is replaceable.


There are different ways that online ghostings signal that a friendship is entirely over. I spoke to Jane, who told me that she experienced a social media ghosting following an IRL one. She tells me that she was living with a best friend who suddenly moved out of the house without a word, not even replying to texts asking if she was okay. When Jane discovered her friend had a baby, she texted her congratulations but got no response. While her experience is slightly different, Jane believes ghosting in friendships is common because "it's easier to do 'life admin' and overhaul who you hang out with now because so much of your connection is online. You can just say, 'I'm done with you,' and block them on everything." Social media removes the awkwardness of having to hear someone's reaction to you falling out with them.

Not knowing where you stand with someone can wreak havoc on your mental health. I spoke to experts to determine whether these playground-style tactics are new and whether they can have a negative effect on us. Frank McAndrew, a social psychologist, told me that he believes it is nothing new but is "facilitated by the internet." He added that "people have always abruptly ended relationships by simply not returning phone calls; the internet is just one escape route." While he doesn't believe being ghosted is any more traumatic than a traditional dumping, he did say that one bad thing about simply disappearing is that "the other person goes through a period of uncertainty about the status of the relationship and may waste time and effort trying to reestablish contact."

Christine Hohlbaum, who wrote the article "Why Ghosting is Leading the World's Mental Health Crisis" in Psychology Today, takes a more hardline approach. She believes that due to the internet speeding up life, "people make snap decisions based on convenience, whether it is ordering something online or ending a relationship." She adds that this leads to people thinking they are anonymous, when in truth they are not. She believes that being ghosted can be traumatic as it "leads to a sense of powerlessness" as you have no context or information. She adds that "ghosting is cruel, and can have an enormous impact on a person's self-esteem," as well as a "cowardly way of expressing your dissatisfaction."


We need to stop acting as if "online" is separate to "real life."


All of us, at one time or another, have made thoughtless decisions that have hurt someone else's feelings. But how can we behave responsibly online? Well, for one, we need to stop acting as if "online" is separate to "real life." We spend all day constantly interacting with people we know from different parts of our lives. For every 10 minutes that you spend speaking to a friend on Whatsapp, how many do you spend at their house? The two realms interact, and McAndrew agrees: "Try as best you can to treat people online the way you would treat them in person. In many ways, it is easier to treat others badly online because you do not directly see the hurt in their eyes. It may take a little extra effort to be sensitive in an online relationship."

Not only that, but context is lost online: An interaction you might think is harmless could hurt someone else because they can't see you laughing. Christine adds: "Remember that a typed message has no tone, so the other person may misinterpret what you are saying. Emojis can help convey your meaning, but in truth, picking up the phone or sending an audio note are better ways of conveying your feelings. Face-to-face contact is the best because 90 percent of communication is transferred through body language."

The internet has made making friends easy, but with that is the message that everyone is replaceable. More than ever, we feel as if we don't owe anyone anything: We put ourselves first in the name of self-care, isolate ourselves, take baths, and cut out "toxic" people. But we do have a responsibility to the feelings of others: If you can't maintain a relationship with someone anymore, tell them. Having that conversation is hard, but what's harder is feeling abandoned with no explanation and no idea how to change your behavior. Ending a friendship with an unfollow or by ignoring someone's messages is childish and cruel. It's playground behavior: "Why has Megan unfollowed me?" is the new "Why wasn't I invited to Megan's sleepover?" It's a social tactic that unfairly forces you to fill in the gaps. And because it exists "just online," you feel petty if you talk about it. Jane agrees: "It can often feel really stupid to outright ask them about it, because it looks so juvenile written out in a text, even though it can be legitimately hurtful."

If this does happen to you, it's normal to wonder what you've done, but the answer is often: not much. People get sick of people, they let grudges accumulate, and sometimes friendships just run their course. But the humane, responsible thing to do is tell someone if you can no longer continue your relationship with them. If you can't follow someone but still want to be their friend, tell them. If it's unhealthy for you to be around them, tell them. The world is a difficult place, and we all owe one another kindness and honesty, even if the maturity and emotional strength that confrontation takes is difficult.

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Screenshot via YouTube

And I need to see the rest ASAP

As excited as we already are for Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, to hit theaters next week, we just got even more desperate to see it. Why? Well, the first six minutes of the film were just released, and every minute is incredible.

The film opens on Molly (Beanie Feldstein) meditating and listening to a motivational tape telling her she's better than everyone else, and to "fuck those losers." Her room is decorated with pictures of Michelle Obama and RBG, so we know her head is in the right place. We learn she's the class president when she arrives at school with her best friend, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever).

It's there that we get a glimpse of the social hierarchy in which Molly and Amy exist—but somewhere down near the bottom, way below the popular kids, the theater nerds, the stoners, and even the annoying class clown.

The film officially hits theaters on May 23, but Annapurna Pictures is holding advanced screenings across the country today, May 17—we're actually holding two of them! So, if you're in L.A. or New York, check them out.

But also, you can watch the first six minutes of the film, below, and prepare yourself to watch the whole movie in a week.

BOOKSMART | Uncut First 6 Minutes www.youtube.com

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Photo by Rich Polk/ Getty

Her hypocrisy would be mind-blowing if it weren't so predictable

It's been just over two years since Tomi Lahren appeared on ABC's The View to assert that, despite her ultra-conservative bona fides, she holds one position more normally associated with the left wing: She's pro-choice. In that talk show appearance, Lahren made clear then that her pro-choice views were consonant with her self-identification as a "constitutionalist," further explaining:

I am someone that's for limited government. So I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government but I think the government should decide what women should do with their bodies." I can sit here and say that as a Republican, and I can say, "You know what? I'm for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well."

Back then, we noted the hypocrisy inherent to that position, since Lahren was an ardent supporter of President Trump—who made no secret of his desire to appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and other judicial benches—and Vice-President Pence, whose anti-abortion views are even more ardent.

Since Lahren's appearance on The View, she has appeared in the anti-abortion film Roe v. WadeRoe v. Wade, which co-starred fellow execrable conservative troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, and, um, Joey Lawrence. Though the film has not yet been released, it is alleged to contain "several graphic scenes depicting aborted fetuses," and also the acting styles of Jamie Kennedy, so we're not sure for whom it will really be appropriate.

But while Lahren's role in that film would be enough to make anyone question just how committed she is to her alleged pro-choice stance, the recent news about de facto abortion bans in Alabama and Georgia has incited Lahren to speak out about her views once again.

On Twitter, Lahren opened herself up to "attack[s] by [her] fellow conservatives" and spoke out against the Alabama abortion ban as being "too restrictive." And, indeed, her "fellow conservatives" did quickly attack Lahren for not actually caring about human life, and for having too liberal a position on whether or not a woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy that resulted from rape. But then also, as Lahren must have known would happen, other people supported her for... not having one irredeemably monstrous position amongst her arsenal of irredeemably monstrous positions.

But, let's be clear: Tomi Lahren is not—no matter what she tweets—pro-choice, and neither is any supporter of the Republican Party. There is no doubt that there are Republicans who are in favor of safe access to abortion—particularly when it comes to themselves and their family members having said access. But by supporting the Republican Party, they are showing how little it actually matters to them, and showing what it is that they really prioritize over women's safety and freedom: namely, access to guns, bigoted immigration policies, the continued disenfranchisement of voters across the country. I could go on, but there's no need.

Lahren's tweet doesn't reveal in any way that she's an advocate for women's rights, all it reveals is her hypocrisy and that of anyone (Meghan McCain, hi), who would love to have a world created specifically for their needs, and who is willing to sacrifice the rights of the less privileged in order to secure their own. It is despicable and dangerous and incredibly predictable. But, at least, it might give Lahren something to talk about on the red carpet with her fellow anti-abortion movie costars, if that film ever gets more than a straight-to-video release.

If you want to find out how to help women have access to abortion, please visit here for information about donating and volunteering.

Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty also appear

Lil Nas X went all out with the visuals for his hit "Old Town Road," tapping all of his newfound collaborators and friends, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, Vince Staples, and Rico Nasty, to star. The movie travels from 1889 Wild Wild West to the modern-day city outskirts, so saddle up and come along for the ride.

As the visuals start, Nas and Cyrus gallop away with a bag of loot, obviously having pulled off a heist. The trio of men on horseback that were in pursuit of them come to a halt, unable to catch up, and Chris Rock—the leader of the group—states, "When you see a Black man on a horse going that fast, you just gotta let him fly." Just as Nas and Cyrus think they're able to relax in stranger's home, it turns out the homeowner isn't so friendly. Nas jumps into a hole to escape, only to end up hundreds of years in the future on the other side.

Forget trying to figure out the logistics of time travel, and just embrace the hilarity of Nas' horse also having wound up there, and in peak racing condition. He impresses the locals not only in the race (with Vince Staples losing money in a bet against him) but with his sweet square dancing skills. Once he and Cyrus (yes, he time traveled too) trade out their old-timey duds for some fresh, rhinestone-adorned outfits, they enter a room playing bingo with Rico Nasty in it. Diplo is playing the washboard, I feel like I'm losing my mind, and this is probably the best music video I've watched this year.

Watch the movie for "Old Town Road" again and again, below.

Lil Nas X - Old Town Road (Official Movie) ft. Billy Ray Cyrus www.youtube.com

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Screenshot via YouTube

They really "don't care" about how this was edited, do they?

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber used the name of their song as inspiration for the "I Don't Care" music video, and have presented what is essentially a long blooper reel of the pair messing around with a green screen.

The visuals show how dedicated the two are to proving just how much they don't care, because I'm pretty sure they did the editing on this video as well. They dance around in costumes, as an ice cream cone, a panda, a teddy bear, and more. I have a clear vision of Bieber and Sheeran raiding a costume shop just an hour before setting up a tripod and going to town on this one. They also juxtapose their faces on top of a ballerina, a skydiver, and a corn inside the husk.

Blink, and you'll miss the funniest moment of all in the video: Ed Sheeran gets married to a cardboard cutout of a young Bieber with swoopy hair.

Watch the visuals for "I Don't Care" below.

Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber - I Don't Care [Official Video] youtu.be

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Photo by Jena Cumbo

Her new LP, 'Take Me to the Disco,' is her most personal work yet

Meg Myers isn't afraid to admit she's still figuring out who she wants to be. Originally from Tennessee, Myers moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 to dedicate her life to her music career. In 2012, she released her first EP, Daughter in the Choir, which set the groundwork for the releases of Sorry (2015) and Take Me to the Disco (2018). Well-known for her poetic lyrics, crude vocals, and cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill," the honest singer-songwriter makes a point to tell me that self-acceptance is a process. After listening to her deeply personal LP, Take Me to the Disco, I know she's not wrong.

In the middle of producing her new forthcoming music, the star opens up to NYLON: "I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art. Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free." It's clear that it is this fearlessness to self-reflect that not only makes her body of work so authentic but also what motivates her to continue to grow.

Below, we speak with Myers about her new music, self-love, and her ever-evolving relationship with creativity.

The Great Eros Pants, Chae New York top, Schutz shoes, and Via Saviene rings. Photos by Jena Cumbo

How did moving to Los Angeles influence the artist you are today?
I feel more safe here. I've been tapping more into my truth and expressing myself on a deeper level here. Growing up, my family was very chaotic, and I never knew what was about to happen. I have four brothers and a sister, and we grew up basically as best friends, making fun out of the chaos and always creating some type of art from it. I've always been able to channel [more painful moments in life] into my art.

Music always stood out to me as the easiest way to capture all the emotions at once in one piece. Music for me is wild and free.

What are some of your biggest influences?
I think all the barbecue and shrimp and grits [in Tennessee] really adds a smokiness to my music.

My queerness gives me a lot of material to create with. It's allowing me to be more playful and not take every little thing so seriously.

Silk Laundry jumpsuit, Wild Vertigga T-shirt, and Nakamol earring.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Tell me about your new music. Why is it different than anything you've ever created?
This EP is going to have a lot of similar vibes to my last album, because I wrote it at the same time with the same producer about a lot of the same struggles and self-discoveries as my past music. I'll share more with you on my third album.

I'm such a fan of your cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill." Why did you gravitate toward that song to cover?
It's such a powerful song! Kate Bush is magic. It's almost like I've been being guided to cover that song for a long time. I don't know how to explain it in words, as they can feel so limiting, and this song is beyond words to me. It's just a deep inner knowing, and it makes my heart flutter.


Chae NewYork blazer; Saku top, The Great Eros bottoms, and Inch2 boots.Photo by Jena Cumbo

Are there any other songs you feel really connected to?
I would love to collaborate with Active Child. The songs "Hanging On" and "Johnny Belinda" are also otherworldly to me. I've been listening to this band called Walk the Moon a lot. I also love Phoebe Bridgers. I have a crush on her. I generally listen to instrumental music and classical. If you look up 432hz music, it's incredibly healing, and solfeggio frequencies have helped me with a lot.

What does self-love mean to you?
It's been a process for me. It's been quite the journey. Right now, I would say [self-love for me] is about accepting myself, and having love for all the experiences that have led me to where I am. It also means being grateful for growth. It's also been about learning to be in the present moment. It's been learning to trust myself and not listening to what others think I need to be doing. As I learn to do this, I also learn how to love others deeper. All this being said, it's a process.

Chae New York blazer and Saku top.Photo by Jena Cumbo

What advice do you have for someone struggling to find happiness right now?
Spend some time in solitude if you can, or with a really safe person who you feel you can express yourself freely with. Find someone who has no expectations of you and is supportive. In that present moment, ask yourself, What feels good to you? What do you feel like doing? Use your imagination. Daydream. Find what it is you enjoy doing. I promise you can unlock magic inside yourself. It just takes patience.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

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