It seems that 2022 is the period when manipulative and indulgent behaviors have come into focus as gaslighting and goblin mode are declared words of the year.
How would you describe 2022? Perhaps you would consult your album and have your photos and memories of your travels define the year, which saw the world finally open up after reeling from a pandemic. Or there’s your social media highlights, from your nostalgic archive of Instagram stories to your Spotify Wrapped, that could encapsulate the rollercoaster ride that is the past twelve months.
And if everything seems a bit hazy on your end, there are institutions that could literally help you find the right words. With interesting and thought-provoking insight, linguistic systems like Merriam-Webster and Oxford Languages are able to capture the zeitgeist of any period through declaring the words of the year. And proving the wildness of 2022, the algorithms and the public searches reveal that this is the year where “gaslighting” and going in “goblin mode” prevail.
Since 2003, American publishing company Merriam-Webster has been marking year-ends with their Word of the Year, a ten-word list that somehow captures the ethos of a specific period. Through analyzing the harnessed data from its website, zeroing in on the searches of the dictionary users and terminologies that have seen a significant increase in lookups over the 12 months, Merriam-Webster extrapolates the words that have been the talk of the town.
And this 2022, the age which Merriam-Webster describes as one of “misinformation—of fake news, of conspiracy theories, and deepfakes,” gaslighting has proved to be the word that have piqued the interest of most people with a whopping 1740% increase in its lookups.
Gaslighting traces an interesting history. It is derived from a 1938 thriller play Gas Light by British novelist and playwright Patrick Hamilton, which was subsequently adapted into a film Gaslight in the United Kingdom (1940) and United States (1944). At the center of the dark story is an overbearing husband who forces his wife into believing that she’s going insane to the extent where he insists that even the dimming of the gas lights caused by his curious activities are just her imagination and that she can’t trust her own perceptions.
@seerenespeak Do you want to know how to respond? — #gaslighting #psychologyfacts #communicationskills #communicationtips #communication #howto ♬ original sound – seerenespeak
And then came the word gaslighting which has since been defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for a personal advantage” or in the context of deception as portrayed in the film, as a prolonged “psychological manipulation” of a person, which causes them to “question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”
Unlike the words lying, which applies on an individual level, and fraud, which is more organizational in nature, gaslighting distinguishes itself as a deceptive act that can cater to both “personal and political contexts.” And over the years, as the (online) means and platforms used for misleading have continued to evolve, Merriam-Webster tells (not gaslights) us that gaslighting has been the most “favored word for the perception of deception” earning its title as their word of the year.
Just recently, gaslighting has been the talk of Filipinos online as #MyGaslightingMoment became a trending Twitter topic. Spurred by a radio station, the hashtag has quickly turned into a discussion forcing Filo netizens to moments of introspection.
invalidated my feelings just for the purpose of validating someone elses #MyGaslightingMoment— mel (@moncheriemel) December 7, 2022
One user laments their gaslighting moment which has made them not continue pursuing what they’re passionate about. Another self-gaslighter attacks us with a tweet saying that they have once invalidated their feelings just to validate someone else’s.
when u disregard your once fervent talent and say “wala kasing pera jan” but in reality you just lost the motivation and the creative spark #MyGaslightingMoment— nutmeg (@kireimema_ra) December 7, 2022
Pinoy traffic is so bad it makes some Filipinos gaslight themselves. @COCOhernandez’s gaslighting moment is when he thinks that the traffic is not really bad and just a reminder of how one should slow down.
From deceiving to indulging oneself real quick, 2022 really is one hell of a year. Meanwhile, through once again the might of algorithms, the revered institution’s research programme including its powerful Oxford English Corpus (which analyzes over a hundred million English words online), and dictionary editors, the United Kingdom’s Oxford Languages has hailed the neologism goblin mode as the Oxford Word of the Year.
Chosen as the expression that represents the “ethos, mood, and preoccupations of the past twelve months,” goblin mode, which is usually expressed as going in goblin mode or to go in goblin mode, is a slang term defined as a “type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”
Oxford details that while goblin mode first appeared in the digital sphere way back in 2009, it gained popularity when it became viral earlier this year as it figured in “mock-up headlines.” Then came the easing of COVID-19 restrictions following lockdowns and then goblin mode suddenly saw a spike in Oxford’s frequency statistics, as it carried the prevailing mood of those who did not want to look back and resisted the idea of returning to normal life. It also seems that to go in goblin mode assumes a rebellious nature in that it also means going against “unattainable aesthetic standards and unsustainable lifestyles exhibited on social media.”
‘Goblin mode’ has been named the word (or phrase) of 2022. Am I the only person who’s never heard it before?!— Mark Edwards (@mredwards) December 5, 2022
People have mixed feelings about Oxford’s word (or phrase) of the year online. While some have just discovered the term, others are celebrating the representation of the Gen Z expression.
very happy to see goblin mode representation in the dictionary, but to me goblin mode doesn’t mean lazy or slovenly, it means being a funky lil guy, a weirdo, a wretch— Anna Hollinrake ⛅ (@AnnaHollinrake) December 5, 2022
when I’m goblin mode I’m wearing three jumpers and eating salami straight from the packet under a large blanket
Others are also giving their own interpretations of the term saying that it also means being a “weirdo” and that “lying flat” is its catchier counterpart.
I’m sorry ‘goblin mode’ just doesn’t sound as catchy as ‘lying flat’ pic.twitter.com/ebXiftTeAz— Yaling Jiang (@yaling_jiang) December 6, 2022
Even the legendary author, Stephen King, has acquired a new learning and is ready to use goblin mode “at every opportunity.”
I learned a new phrase today: going goblin.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) December 6, 2022
I intend to use it at every opportunity.