The Normative Ethics of Ghosting

One of the concerning phenomenon of the Zoomer generation is the ubiquity with which they ghost. If this were just a means of ending romantic or sexual relationships, that would be one thing. Yet, platonic and professional relationships are equally or almost equally the subject of it. Ghosting is, when not avoiding a truly dangerous situation, cowardly. Yet, it is a reasonable cowardice when it is an attempt to avoid the drama and emotions associated with sex. It is a pathetically weak cowardice when in a platonic context. Issues in platonic relationships may induce discomfort but to a degree that a normal person should be expected to endure so as to conduct themselves decently.

Platonic ghosting betrays the almost complete lack of a moral spine. I don’t like generation bashing but this will involve a little of it but, as said in prior articles, modern generations bleed into each other more so this is more about contemporary ethics, generally. So, what does platonic ghosting say about the normative ethics of the Zoomer generation? Well, it is one example of many that I would argue suggest an egocentric morality. That they view ethics as how oneself is treated more than anything else.

The identity campaigns have been the subject of much controversy, most of which is less than warranted. One criticism that could be made is that they’re all rights and no responsibilities. These campaigns are, mostly, led by members of the group that is the subject of the campaign. Gay people may support Black Lives Matter but they only put effort into their own campaigns unless they’re also Black. For the most part. They are all each working for themselves and nobody else. They are only focussed on the narrow aims that will benefit them and this reflects a moral perception that their problems are of disproportionate importance.

They’re not trying to build a world of peace and love. My political background, being more universally oriented, requires one ultimately promise to do things that will cause one discomfort because making the world a better place requires sacrifice both in the means and in the ends. Love and kindness require forgiving people you don’t want to forgive, tending the environment means giving up conveniences, and all of the changes that need to be made necessitate real sacrifice. Even on the left, the usual response to that is the same as the public’s response was to Jimmy Carter’s “Malaise Speech”. People like having their rights but they’re unwilling to cross the line into real sacrifice to make the world a better place. That sentiment has only increased since.

Of late, the word “uncomfortable” has come more into vogue as if the subjective definition of comfort draws the lines of ethics. Interracial couples make racists uncomfortable, gay couples make homophobes uncomfortable, Abbie Hoffman made his entire civil rights career by making people uncomfortable. Offending people is not wrong and is often the right thing to do. All social movements began by being offensive minorities. Using whether someone makes one “uncomfortable” as a moral term implies that whether another person has made you less happy or not determines whether or not they have transgressed ethically and morally. That expresses perfectly the idea of egocentric morality. It is a system in which morality and moral conduct is gaged by how it contributes to one’s happiness and not any abstract notions of right and wrong or collective happiness. In a world where one’s rights to comfort outweigh one’s responsibility to behave lovingly then platonic ghosting makes sense. It may be avoiding only a slight sacrifice but people will even avoid that if they can.

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