|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 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 would be 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 would acknowledge as they disappeared from your life, these folks would simply vanish. There would be no way to discern whether it was something you said, a fear of a particular kind of intimacy, or even a perfectly legitimate need to move on. The simple courtesy of closing a conversation was being replaced by what someone who had acted towards me in this manner justified as 'ghosting.' The point of 'ghosting' seemed to be about removing yourself from a conversation without acknowledging that you were in the process of having one. By asserting control in a situation not predicated on needing it, your sense of self could be protected by making yourself disappear. Each encounter was experienced as one in a series, with equal value, and where nuance and feeling were deliberately erased, or perhaps never even considered. It was as if the conversation left no residue on the 'ghosting' individual because you're never given a clue as to why they needed to disappear. Just as I've started to wonder how much technology and social media and phone texting has had to bear on this capacity to control the uncontrollable, Olivier Assayas's new picture, Personal Shopper, picks up on this phenomenon in a fascinating new way.