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Mission Impossible: Ghosting Protocol

ghost·ing: verb; (\ˈgōs-tiŋ\): The art of leaving a party early and/or unnoticed.

Mission Impossible: Ghosting Protocol

ghost·ing: verb; (\ˈgōs-tiŋ\): The art of leaving a party early and/or unnoticed.


Ok, introverts: listen here.

I get it. You don’t want to go to the party. That’s great, because neither do I. You want to stay home and watch Helvetica again, or perhaps Jiro Dreams of Sushi. I know. You want to play Cave Story and check out all the alternate endings.

I get this. I’m with you.

But look, there are parties you just have to go to. You know this. I know this. It can’t be helped.

Maybe there’s someone you want to meet. Maybe there’s a cute guy/girl/puppy there and you want to cuddle them. Maybe you just don’t want to drink alone (again).

It’s cool. I get it.

This is why you need to learn the art of ghosting. See below.

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Ghosting is the art of leaving a party early, unnoticed, and well.

My friends, this is a skillset. Anyone can learn to do it. Hopefully, using this fancy new Medium thing, I can teach you to both ghost effectively and on good terms.

That last part is essential— because you don’t just leave or you’ll be known as a douche. You have to leave and have everybody remember how much fun they had with you and have them think you are actually still there.

Hey, does this sound familiar? “Oh we’ll just go for a while, then we can leave.” Yeah, good fucking luck. You need your ghosting protocol down or you ain’t going nowhere.

Below, the commandments for proper ghosting.

1. Dress the hell up

Andy Warhol said this first. When you show up, you do it early and you do it well-dressed. (a) It implies you have somewhere to go. (b) When people talk later on, they’ll be like “oh, he was here earlier.” (c) You can actually say hi to the host which is what actually matters when you go to a party, as he/she is the guy/girl that you need to not offend.

Look at the size of those bowties.
“This is such hard work!” — Andy Warhol

2. Blame the other gender

Couples know this. Sometimes, you gotta take one for the team. But basically this move is two sides of the same coin. If you’re single, say you left with someone. If you’re shacked up, blame the other guy. An easy, “Oh, Shelly has to get up in the morning” will do wonders as Shelly does an exasperated sigh and hand move full of implied regret.

By the way I’m down with all you gay peeps too, I just couldn’t come up with a better way to title this particular move. But anyone of any orientation can do this.

3. Get a good story early on

Facebook blows but sometimes it can be helpful. The next morning, you check that shit and you get some kind of cool story of who puked / hooked up / fell over and you’re good to go.

Then, and this is the trick, you mention it to others before they can say it themselves. This is straight up Ghosting 201 action right here.

Basically this is like stealing / buying a dude’s homework right before class. You grab it, you copy, and you go on with your day.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

4. ‘The gentleman’

Ok so these previous moves are pretty sketchy so I thought I would follow up with a quick one that’s all clean-like.

Best / cleanest line of all time: “Hey, it was good to meet you.” Put your hand out, shake real clean like, and you’re good to go. You can literally leave any conversation this way. You don’t have to give excuses or anything. Be sure to raise your eyebrows with a ton of enthusiasm and smile. You can practice this one in the mirror.

5. “My phone died.”

I don’t know if you realize the power of what I’m giving you right now, but I’m going to continue anyway.

Ok, your phone is the most helpful item of all time inasmuch as it actually behaves like a significant other for the purpose of excuses. Your phone is ringing? You’re out of there. Phone died? Then people just couldn’t find you, but you were totally there the whole time.

6. Understanding the 12-2am rule

Look,I am an old man in a younger man’s body. I need my eight hours, you know what I mean? And I gotta hit the gym in the morning or I’ll fall apart, and hey— those pecs just aren’t going to build themselves.

Anyway, the ideal time to leave a party is between 12 and 2. The party is well underway by this point. Everyone has drank significantly. Very few people are entirely sober and it’s likely that some will forget you are even there in the first place.

This is the point at which you can just straight up bail. There’s no shame involved, and you can easily claim you were there for at least one hour longer than you actually were. Leaving at midnight gives you an easy 1am, etc.

By this point, basically no one cares. (Photo via John Watson on flickr.)

7. Tweeting from home

Zomg, this is the sneakiest thing ever. I’ve never actually done it, but I’ve always wanted to try. Here are some great sample tweets, feel free to schedule them on Buffer:

(a) Great time with @jaybaer @chrisbrogan @jasonfalls — I am definitely still here at this party right now!!! #fun
(b) Still drinking beers at #PlanB with @ambercadabra — I am at the bar! #totally
(c) Loving the energy at @cc_chapman’s house! I’m totally never going to leave!

8. Bonus: Ghosting formal events

Ok, this is way harder. I both ghosted a wedding a while back and then a private sit-down dinner a few weeks back. I felt bad about the wedding but it just couldn’t be helped. I had to buy cigarettes to give myself something to do (I don’t smoke).

Point being, sometimes events like these have gotta be dropped. It can’t be helped. Either they are just horrible, or they’ve run their course, or everyone is getting drunk and loud— you get the picture.

(a) The bathroom move. In order to properly leave an event where you are sitting down— it is imperative that you get up first, and not to say you are leaving. So use the bathroom, return, and say you gotta go. Bam. You’re outta there.

(b) Spill something on yourself. I’m laughing out loud as I write this, but hey, if it works, it works. Don’t do red wine— it’ll stain— but something else will do. It breaks the momentum of the evening and people will understand. You’re a klutz, but hey, all good.

(c) Make a toast. Almost nobody toasts anymore. “Here’s to a great night.” Clink glasses, everyone just felt really good about you, and vamoose. Classy.

Ok, congratulations, you are now a ghosting pro. Ghosting is basically reverse crashing, so if you want bonus points, you can go watch Wedding Crashers backwards and call it a day. Soon, you’ll be able to show up as a frikkin hologram and you’ll never need to leave your house, ever.

Well done, young padawan. Well done.

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Julien Smith is the CEO of Breather and a New York Times bestselling author of The Flinch and Trust Agents. He’s been in published GQ, Cosmopolitan, etc. etc. Thanks for reading.