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MTV’s New Series ‘Ghosted’ Sparks Discussion About Consent In The Age Of Reality TV

MTV announced a new show called Ghosted: Love Gone Missing, a docuseries much like MTV’s Catfish, where contestants track down the romantic partners who up and ghosted them. If you’re a woman I am sure you’re thinking: this sounds creepy as hell. Yeah, it is. The reaction on social media was nothing short of wary. 

What woman hasn’t darted into a bodega to get away from a man following her? What woman doesn’t know that if she sees another girl in public uncomfortable around a man, that she ought to pretend to know that girl and scoop her away before things take a bad turn? And this isn’t even genuine stalking, it’s just regular street harassment. To be strategically watched and followed at all times by some creep — to be stalked — that’s an entirely new level of harassment.

 None of which should be glamourized or encouraged. However, MTV seems to feel differently.  

So what is “Ghosting”? 

In the digital age of dating apps, ghosting refers to the act of suddenly, and without explanation, cutting off all communication with a romantic partner. This kind of behavior isn’t new or shocking. When everyone you are dating only exists in your phone, you’re bound to be dating multiple people, and you’re bound to lose interest in some of them. 

It’s hard to imagine, but there was a time where people didn’t have portable phones. They would go to meet dates at restaurants and hope they didn’t get stood up. There was no way to reliably reach people, so your great grandparents probably got ghosted too. MTV is now broadening the definition beyond romance for their new reality series to family and friends. 

Why is MTV’s Ghosted: Love Gone Missing problematic?

Ghosted: Love Gone Missing is hosted by The Bachelorette veteran Rachel Lindsay and artist Travis Mills. The hosts will help contestants track down and confront the lovers, friends, and family members who abruptly cut off ties. The obvious problem here is that there is no way for the people, who clearly don’t want to be found, to consent to what essentially amounts to stalking. 

Tracking down someone who consciously made the decision to break away from an individual, seems like a huge violation of their privacy and wishes. The show assumes that the ghosted party is by default the victim, when in reality maybe people don’t want to see these folks for a reason. I’ve ghosted many creepy dudes and toxic people in my day. I don’t need them finding me and putting me on blast on television. 

Get the facts on stalking.

Stalking disproportionately affects women. In the United States, while 1 in 6 women (1 in 7 Latinx women) will deal with stalking in in her lifetime, only 1 in 19 men will, according to the Women and Gender Advocacy Center. About two-thirds of women are typically stalked by former or current romantic partners. Stalking is linked to other forms of intimate partner violence against women, with 81 percent experiencing physical assault, and 31% experiencing sexual assault. 

Even if this show is harmless, what if it triggers someone’s past negative experiences? 

People on social media were not happy with the premise.

One social media user equated the premise with stalking, harassment, and intimidation. It’s hard not to see why they feel this way. Unless the show is completely fake, the premise essentially requires a person’s privacy to be violated. 

If you get ghosted, maybe it’s time for you to move on.

Other users felt it is unfair for a person to be forced to engage with someone they clearly want nothing to do with. That totally makes sense. Would you want that toxic person randomly showing up at your house with cameras ready to air out your dirty laundry? Arguably, for someone to be a contestant on the show they would have to share a one-sided version of somebody else’s personal history without their consent. Would you want your toxic ex telling only their version of the story to millions of people? Would you want them tracking your movements to find you? Would you want to talk to them about it on national television? 

Things can easily go bad. 

It goes without saying that the United States has a gun problem, a toxic masculinity problem, and violence against women problem. If the series were to confront the wrong person, it could genuinely put lives in danger. While I am all for not judging art until I see it, I have to agree with these Twitter users: a bad idea is a bad idea. 

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