Goblin Mode

Who knew. Among the many things I haven’t been on top of is “goblin mode.” I read today that it has been chosen as Oxford Word of 2022. I saw it on CNN, so it must be true – right? Plus, there are stories about it on NPR, NYT, and BBC. Clearly I have not been keeping up.

I was a bit disappointed to read that there had been a public poll this year to select the word. I missed that, too. Evidently, “goblin mode,” with 93% of the votes, beat out “metaverse,” and “IStandWith,” in case you’re wondering. What I find cause for wonder is the fact that 93% of people anywhere are in agreement about anything at this moment in the history of the world.

What is goblin mode? From the various definitions and examples I’ve read today, it seems that being in goblin mode means being real, assuming real is not “picked up” (everything neat and orderly, or 100% social media ready at all times). The refreshing news is that, unlike being slovenly, being in goblin mode is not a pejorative. In fact, it’s sort of a positive because it strikes a blow for being real.

Then again “doomscrolling” and “quiet quitting” are also current terms that refer to activities that have traditionally carried a negative connotation but no longer do – if we word it the new way. In fact, it feels as if we may all be in a race to the bottom, with additional positive-facing terms to come.

Maybe as we negotiate our existence with COVID, we find ourselves on the other side of Alice’s looking glass.

Alice through the looking glass, drawing by John Tenniel

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