|Kirsten Stewart in Personal Shopper|
In the last few years, when attending various parties and gatherings, I started noticing some unusual new social behaviour among people (often women) that I'd never encountered before. When engaged in a conversation that took on its own momentum from the various subjects it raised -- as opposed to the more careful chatter where familiar anecdotes and social gossip provided ample protection from revealing yourself -- there would reach a point when the person I was talking to would simply disappear without a word. Unlike in the past, where a fascinating conversation could lead to friendship, a relationship, or simply a nice evening that the person you were talking to recognized as she disappeared from your life, these folks would simply vanish. There was no way to discern whether it was something you said, fear of a particular kind of intimacy, or even a perfectly legitimate need to move on. The simple courtesy of closing a conversation was replaced by what someone who had acted towards me in this manner justified as 'ghosting.' The point of 'ghosting' seems to be to remove yourself from a conversation without acknowledging that you are in the process of having one. By asserting control in a situation not predicated on needing it, you can protect your sense of self by making yourself disappear. You experience each encounter as one in a series with equal value, where nuance and feeling are erased, or perhaps never even considered. It 's as if the conversation left no residue because the person who does the ghosting never offers a clue to why she needs to disappear. Just as I've started to wonder how much technology and social media and phone texting have had to bear on this capacity to control the uncontrollable, Olivier Assayas's new picture, Personal Shopper, picks up on this new phenomenon in a fascinating way.