“Goblin Mode”: Word of the Year

By Isaac Lavitt ’25 & Evan Peters ’25

Copy Editor & Contributor

“Goblin Mode” has been named the Word of the Year for 2022 by the Oxford Dictionary. Taking 93% of the public vote, this phrase has been chosen to aptly encapsulate this year, standing beside previous years’ “toxic,” “climate emergency,” and “vax.” Meaning “A type of behaviour, which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations”, “Goblin Mode” may feel like you are a victim of Merriam-Webster’s word of the year, “gaslighting.” Beating out “Metaverse” and “#IStandWith,” “Goblin Mode” perfectly epitomizes this muddled world we returned to after years of COVID-19.

The origin of this phrase was on Twitter in 2009 but it exploded early this year. The phrase quickly went viral after a fake headline reported that Julia Fox and Ye West separated after Fox went “Goblin Mode.” Since then, it has been used on TikTok during the recovery from the pandemic. Many people do not want to go back to “old normal” and are instead embracing their inner lethargy. This word speaks to people as they navigate this topsy-turvy world we all emerged into, fading into our lairs after we could not find peace.

Collins Dictionary’s word of the year also reflects this awry universe that drove so many people to their true goblin: “Permacrisis,” meaning “an extended period of instability and insecurity,” summarizes our year in a single word. With COVID-19, the climate crisis, the war in Ukraine, and political turmoil around the world, our planet is delicately balancing on a stiletto, and we have forgotten what stability and safety mean.

There seems to be a link between Collins’s and Oxford’s choices summarizing our insecure existence and our coping strategies. While many people were eager to step foot outside into this strange new world, we are anxious and reluctant to change our lives back to the status quo. When we look outside, we find sadness and death, so we hide behind a mask, refusing to face the light.

However, our world needs to change. Embracing the “Goblin Mode” is good in the short term but we need to adopt our world and shape it for the better. Although we may feel we are in a permacrisis, we need to stop gaslighting ourselves, and instead take on the world to make it a better place.

So, you, the reader, turn off your “Goblin Mode,” and be the change you want to see in the new year.

Photo credit: Ian Nicholson/PA

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