If you don’t holla back in the Philippines, you may soon be breaking the law.
A legislator in the country wants to make ghosting someone there an “emotional offense,” with penalties potentially including mandatory community service.
Ghosting, defined as when someone cuts off all forms of online and phone communication, can “activate the same pathways in the brain as physical pain,” Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. wrote in his explanatory note along with the proposal, which was posted to Twitter this week by One News.
“The ambiguity with ghosting is that there is no real closure between the parties concerned and as such, it can be likened to a form of emotional cruelty and should be punished as an emotional offense because of the trauma it causes to the ‘ghosted party,’” the lawmaker wrote.
Though no penalty is defined in the proposal, Teves told CNN he didn’t think the penalty should “be heavy.
“We can impose a penalty of community service for offenders to realize that ghosting is not right,” he said, claiming ghosting can also affect a worker’s productivity.
The offense would only apply when two people are in a “dating relationship” – either living together or “romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis during the court of the relationship,” the explanatory note said. Others with ignored text messages wouldn’t be covered in the proposed ghosting ban.
The bill seems unlikely to pass in a country facing more pressing societal issues, leaving critics slamming the move as a publicity stunt.
“It is a calculative move to make him popular and be part of the public conversation,” Arjan Aguirre of Ateneo de Manila University told the Washington Post.
The report noted that Teves recently made a controversial but attention-grabbing push to rename an airport in the country after former despot Ferdinand Marcos.