Social media ghosting: how apps are going stealth mode
New features are allowing us to discretely exit the chat and only tweet to our pals. So, why are we suddenly all going incognito?
Did you know that your WhatsApp experience is about to become far, far more chic? No? Well, allow us to make your day. Recently, the messaging app announced that in the near future, a feature will allow people to silently leave group chats.
To many, this will be a revelation. A life-changing event, like Quorn chicken nuggets, or wireless headphones. Yup, you’ll be able to slip out of those exhausting, inconvenient, unnecessary, and annoying group chats without leaving a ‘+447123456789 just left’ trace for people to react with an emoji eye roll or a “rude!” to.
You’ll just be gone, like when you go to “get a vape” from the offie at 1am and never return. The absence is only discovered aeons later, when the passing of time has done its thing and made it less of a drama. It’s known by some as an Irish goodbye, or a French exit, and now you’ll find it online. There’s one small catch, though.
The admin of the group chat will be notified. This is probably because in some instances, admins are genuinely responsible people like teachers or coordinators, and not just the highlighter-loving boss bitch leader of the friendship group so, you know, fair enough. Except, not ideal when the admin is exactly the sort of person who might confront you. But anyway, cool new feature for the most part, isn’t it!
This isn’t the only recent change to the Meta-owned instant messaging service, either. WhatsApp has also just added a “view once” setting for images, which allows you to send a photo that then deletes as soon as it’s viewed, very much à la Snapchat. There’s a screenshot-blocking function that’ll come with it (although not immediately, so be careful with what you send in the meantime). And, as reported by The Independent, you’ll soon be able to check messages without other people knowing, and select who gets to see whether you’re online or not. In combination, these point to a far more stealthy and user-controlled way of using socials. A little like how we get to choose our close friends on Instagram (incidentally, Instagram users are using stories and DMs more than ever before to share specific content).
And it isn’t just WhatsApp looking to allow you to slip away from the masses. Have you heard of Twitter Circle just yet? Back in May, the app announced that it was going to slowly drip in the feature for its users which “lets you add up to 150 people who can see your Tweets when you want to share with a smaller crowd.”
Circles doesn’t seem to stop people from screenshotting tweets, though – or at least not for now – so chaos might still ensue if you’re using your circle to launch into a 45-tweet thread about something you know will piss off swathes of the web.
Either way, it seems as though collectively a load of people are looking for more personal, intimate connections on social media. Are we all just a little bit done with how public most of social media is? Broadcasting our lives is something we still like to do, yes, but only to those who we want to see it. BeReal, which is a more candid take on social posting, has taken off for a reason.
Soon, we might be done with likes, retweets, and even followers altogether. Just remember not to tell anyone when you delete your social media app.