Ok.  Just like over 15 million other Americans, I am a huge 24 fan.  And even though the show is now officially of the air I am still a huge fan because there are supposed talks of a movie to come in 2011.  But, mainly I am fascinated by one of the signature moves of the show’s protagonist Jack Bauer is “Going Dark“.  This is how my friends and  I refer to Jack’s ability to just fall completely off the grid.  No communication.  No phone, no text, no email, homing beacon, no smoke signals, no fax, no Facebook, no Twitter, no nothing!  The term itself seems to be pretty apropos for more circumstances than Jack Bauer ducking the Chinese government on Fox every Monday from 9-10.

Anyone who has dated before knows what it’s like to have someone “Go Dark” on them.  You go out with someone for a little while, feel like you have a friendly rapport and a growing friendship and then out of nowhere…..Abra Cadabra!  They vanish.  No contact.  No notification.  No farewell.  And for most people the first time this ever happens to you, you’re at a loss in terms to how to deal with it.  So what do we do?  We make a fool out of ourselves.  We call, email, text, inquire with friends about the recently vanished persons whereabouts…….Shamefully, I drove past a girl’s house once in the hope that I could gather some information.  (Don’t make that stalker face!  I was young and it was just that one time…..maybe twice)  When you are the victim of a “Gone Dark” situation, your first instinct is to simply ask WTH?  Why is this person not available to me?  We’ve talked or communicated in some way regularly for the past few weeks, months or whatever.  What’s the matter?  And finally the ultimate loss of confidence…”What did I do wrong“?  This, my friends, is when you have hit rock bottom.  Asking, what it is that you could have done to make someone want to no longer speak to you.  It’s an awkward and vulnerable feeling to think that someone not only doesn’t like you , but the thought that you have done something specific to put them off.  “Maybe it was my breath…or the way that I was dressed.  Did I say something wrong?  Maybe I went to far with that joke about her shoes…..”  Trying to self-assess what you have just done to offend someone can be a sad and pathetic sort of scene.  It can go from the most legitimate of reasons to the most superficial.  And ultimately you just never can tell what’s in someone elses head.  And it would be so much easier if that someone would just tell you.

Ironically the very same people who have been victims of the “Going Dark” scenarios are also some of the very same perpetrators of it.  I know that I’ve at times slowly backed out of an acquaintance with very little explanation.  I’ve never actually “Gone Dark” but I have slowly reduced my contact with someone who I think I no longer want to maintain a connection to.  But I definitely know a lot of people who have just “Gone Dark“.  And they all have the same response to why they do it.  “I don’t want to hurt his/her feelings so I think this is the best way to stop communication”.  At first glance this is a very benevolent and thoughtful way to handle a situation where there is a lack of mutual interest.  How selfless of someone, to be so in tune and sensitive to someone else’s feelings that they just total avoid any further communication with them.  That is Mighty Big of you!   Upon further review, that’s a load of crap that even I have been waist  deep in.  The truth of the matter is that it usually makes the person who is trying to ditch someone else very uncomfortable.  “I don’t want to be hated or disliked.  I don’t want to have to look a woman in her face and tell her exactly why I don’t like her or want to carry on any further communication.  I am afraid she will get violent.  I am afraid she will start to get emotional.  I am afraid that she will only misinterpret my lack of future desire as either something being wrong with her or something being wrong with me.”  Any of these could be the reasons.  But instead of me addressing that issue, I choose to avoid it and leave that person hanging as though it’s what is best for them when in actuality it is simply what is most comfortable for me.  The act itself is entirely a selfish one.  People might be initially shocked by the bluntness and even a little bit upset with you, but in the long run they can only respect the fact that you were honest, and that you didn’t leave them to that self-assessment thing that I talked about.  No one likes that…

Plus I find that it’s a pretty good thing to be upfront so you don’t find yourself having to rearrange your daily life for fear of being confronted by someone who thought you might have been run over by a bus!  Do I really want to switch the gym I go to,  change churches, pass on favorite night spots or stop going to the cafe at my job for lunch, for fear of that awkwardness of having to finally face someone who you ditched?  That first face to face moment of silence evolves into a sneering look of disgust and then comes the look of …”you ain’t shit”!  And that’s if you are lucky enough to be dealing with someone who has enough pride or restraint to not say something to you.  Unfortunately for me…….. that hasn’t always been my experience.

Jackson.Bracey@gmail.com

@jacksonbracey

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