A lawmaker wants to punish people for ghosting, or abruptly cutting off communications with someone without explaining why. Arnolfo Teves Jr., a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, claimed in a note accompanying his bill that ghosting “can be likened to a form of emotional cruelty and should be punished as an emotional offense.”
Teves referred to studies that indicate social rejection activates the same neural pathways as physical pain. He argued that “ghosting is a form of spite that develops feelings of rejection and neglect” and claimed the emotional toll can impact productivity. The bill doesn’t propose specific penalties, but Teves suggested in an interview that community service would be appropriate.
The proposed legislation doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It defines ghosting as something that happens when a person is “engaged in a dating relationship.” The document goes on to define a dating relationship as one where the parties live together without being married or are “romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis.” Teves claimed neither casual acquaintances nor “ordinary socialization” constitutes a dating relationship. If you’re being ghosted by someone you’re in more than a casual relationship with (especially a domestic partner!), then there are bigger problems to worry about.
Have you been "ghosted" by someone?
Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves, Jr. filed a bill declaring "ghosting” as an "emotional offense." He says "ghosting" is when someone cuts off communication with friends, partners, and alike without real closure. pic.twitter.com/Vv56IQJbMg
— ONE News PH (@onenewsph) July 26, 2022
Importantly, the bill does not account for blocking someone without explanation if they’re being creepy or threatening. As The Washington Post notes, the bill isn’t likely to pass as it stands. The legislature likely has more pressing concerns anyway.
The bill suggests ghosting occurs “for no apparent justifiable reason but solely to cause emotional distress to the victim.” That’s not really the case. People are busy! They don’t always have time to keep chatting to everyone who messages them on a dating app. Also, folks often feel they lack the communication skills to have open and honest conversations. Maybe the ghoster just thinks you’re boring and wants to let you down relatively gently.
Being ghosted sucks. But expecting someone you don’t really know to keep chatting with you isn’t smart. Proposing to punish people for ghosting after you’ve been burned too many times instead of going to therapy probably isn’t the answer either.