Some people find the thought of goblins a little unnerving. They can appear anti-social, a little erratic in their behaviour, sometimes none too clean, temperamental, and also not especially fussed about how others feel about their behaviour. There’s a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude, an ‘I really don’t care’ approach to other people’s opinions.
Then there are other people who would love a goblinish, whimsical approach to life. They enjoy and maybe even envy how goblins always seem to please themselves, having no malice in them, just a desire to play and not miss opportunities for a little mischief! Being a goblin is about being unashamedly oneself.
Interestingly, for the first time in its history, the Oxford English Dictionary has allowed its word or phrase of the year to be chosen by the public, and 93% of the vote, 318,956, chose ‘goblin mode’. It was by far the winner, followed by ‘metaverse’ receiving 14,484 and ‘#IStandWith’ receiving 8,639 votes.
‘Goblin mode’ is a phrase that describes a lackadaisical approach to life, an easy come, easy go way of interacting. It’s described by the Oxford English Press as displaying ‘unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly or greedy behaviour.’
After the year or two we've had, being locked up in various types of confinement, stuck inside four walls, where we initially acquiesced, thinking it was for only a short period of time, busily trying to find interim diversions and entertainment, It's hardly surprising that we now favour a phrase that sums up how we feel about our lives, how they’ve evolved and how we’ve gradually shifted our outlook and priorities.
In many cases we’ve revised what’s important, what matters to us, are less enthusiastic about shopping and going out, are enjoying more home-based activities like gaming, shopping online, eating and entertaining at home, often preferring to work from home, maybe journeying to the office once or twice a week, or as required, for meetings.
Feeling disinclined to make loads of effort to fit in with other people's expectations, disinterested in pretending to be something we're not seems to have become the mindset of quite a few of us these days. We’ve got out of the habit of constantly checking and being aware of how others expect us to be. Indeed, Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages, commented that many people have been embracing their inner goblin.
This change in attitude has impacted on the way we dress and look after ourselves, perhaps becoming less smart as we become lazier, more relaxed in our approach to self-care. Yes, sometimes it’s important to dress smartly for work, make an effort for a party or a special date night, but putting constant, unrealistic pressure and expectations on ourselves to be perfect has become too stressful and too much like hard work for increasing numbers of us.
The phrase ‘goblin mode’ first appeared on Twitter in 2009, describing a ‘checking out’, don’t care approach to modern day pressures. But it was Kanye West’s breakup from Julia Fox headlining on Twitter in 2022 that brought ‘goblin mode’ back into wider circulation.
A tweet, initially ascribed to Julia Fox read ‘Julia Fox opens up about her difficult relationship with Kanye West. ‘He didn’t like it when I went into ‘goblin mode’.’ She later declined having made the tweet. However, it achieved traction as people around the world related to that mindset and coped with the uncertainty of compulsory lockdowns due to the pandemic.
Goblin mode is the consequence of feeling a little overwhelmed, acknowledging that we’re not always as perfect as we appear in our selfies and on social media. Many people now feel that it’s time to stop being pressurised by advertising campaigns and social media, by the many social expectations that we may perceive we’re being subjected to, and instead own how we feel, choosing to be more authentic and less photo-shopped.
During lockdown, many of us have made concerted efforts with our homes, having had time to declutter, improve our décor, do that much needed decorating or those outstanding home repairs. So, spending time at home has become a cosier experience, especially if we’re a little out of practice at going out. It may well be an easier, more comfortable option to stay indoors, again something that goblins favour!
So, whatever you think of goblins, whether you approve of their behaviour, their approach to life or not, it’s hard not to smile and find aspects of their behaviour somewhat endearing. We may even envy their ‘couldn’t give two hoots about what you think’ way of living, all whilst cosily ensconced indoors.
Embrace your inner goblin and know that you're not alone!
Susan Leigh, Counsellor & Hypnotherapist www.lifestyletherapy.net