Anyone who has tried online dating has surely experienced two things: being ghosted and ghosting. The abrupt end to a text conversation that never starts again is so familiar that it’s become socially acceptable. Well, socially acceptable but not necessarily nice.
Inspired by a friend from Los Angeles who was ghosted by her boyfriend, Zeynep Kecelioglu is showcasing works around the theme of ghosting. Entitled “Are You Ghosting Me?”, the exhibition consists of screen shots of approximately 30 final conversations that took place before ghosting transpired. Each screenshot is put in an antique frame, contrasting the digital with the analogue. In addition, visitors can even share their own stories or listen to those of others, as a recording device is one component of the exhibition.
“The exhibition is basically a Valentine’s gift to the city from me,” says Kecelioglu. “I’ve been reflecting on the concept of gift giving and participation lately. I’ve lived in Montreal for six years, and wanted to give the city and its people a gift from me.”
In particular, Kecelioglu thinks the idea especially appropriate for the lonely hearts of the world. “With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought a ghosting exhibition would be a good idea, to show the people that even if they think they are going through it alone, it’s actually a shared experience. Everyone’s been ghosted or has ghosted someone else.”
Ghosting happens to everyone, from people in their teens to people over 40. Kecelioglu obtained the screenshots after putting postings up on reddit asking people to share their ghosting stories. People from around the world responded. “These are last conversations that happened between people who were at different phases of their relationships. Some were together for awhile, some were new. One woman got ghosted after an eight month relationship out of nowhere.”
The messages vary from funny to heavy, and some are given text to explain the situation. ” People told me their stories,” Kecelioglu says. “Some are from my friends, but it’s mostly strangers from reddit. “
While Kecelioglu takes a light-hearted approach to it, she notes that quite a few people express how frustrated they are. “It’s ego deflating,” she says. “When it happens to you, it sucks.” Seeing how common it is perhaps takes away some of the sting. “When it’s in an exhibition, it’s whimsical. You have fun with it. It’s a shared experience.”
“I think with increased digital communication, people start talking really easily, but it also creates a certain distance. We perceive these interactions as easily dismissible,” Kecelioglu says. “The ease that comes with fast digial communication also creates higher barriers to empathy, and that includes myself. I’ve been ghosted and ghosted people.”
She says she’s trying not to ghost anymore and says that in her case, she just forgot to respond. When asked to explain why it happens, she says, “It’s human nature to run from confrontation, and if you’re presented with a space where you can leave and not feel guilty about it… people take it,” she says.
She also says, “I don’t think people should ghost, but I get how easy it is. People really appreciate other people’s honesty. Even though it sucks, we should be emotionally strong enough to tell the other person, ‘Hey this was a good time but I don’t see this going anywhere.’ It’s really not hard to do. It’s not as easy as ghosting, but it’s not that hard to do. Empathy is important.”
Ghosting shouldn’t stop anyone from online dating, though. When asked for how she recommends people should approach online dating and the phenomenon of ghosting, she says, “Honestly, I look at online dating as gambling. You can get something wonderful out of it, but the chances are quite low. It can happen and it can be beautiful. Overall, I would say it’s important to bring lightness into it.”
Kecelioglu can offer you dating advice in person if you come out to see the exhibition.”The exhibition is on for two weeks. I’ll be there every day. If anyone wants to come and have a cup of tea with me or visit the exhibition, I invite everyone to come.”
Are You Ghosting Me? takes place at Espace Pop (5585 Ave du Parc) from January 31 to February 14 daily. Free. Info HERE.