Column:  Goblin up self-indulgence


Now, the Oxford English Dictionary is at it. In my previous column, I reported that “gaslighting” has been named the Word of the Year 2022 by the dictionary aficionados at Merriam-Webster. Each year, the Merriam-Webster dictionary chooses a word it believes captures a prevailing sentiment of the cultural zeitgeist. Not wanting to miss out on the lexical lingo retrospective, the OED is chiming in with its vote: “goblin mode.”

The OED brought three words to an online vote: goblin mode, metaverse and the hashtag IStandWith. Goblin mode won, garnering 93 percent of the 340,000 votes.

What the heck is goblin mode? On its face, the term sounds like something stolen from Dungeons and Dragons or World of Warcraft. There’s an ancient YouTube video where a user calling himself Leeroy Jenkins runs into an impossible battle against a dragon, armed with the confidence of 1,000 soldiers. To me, that would be “goblin mode.”

As it turns out, I’m wrong. In fact, goblin mode stormed the Twitter scene in February 2022 as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted across the U.S. and most of the world. As people emerged from their hidey-holes of prolonged social isolation, they decided to engage in oddly self-indulgent behaviors.

The OED defines goblin mode as “a type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

Goblin mode looks like eating the entire carton of Ben & Jerry’s while watching an entire season of “The Great British Baking Show.” It is playing video games until 3 a.m. on a Sunday night, fully aware that you have a budget review meeting at 9 in the morning. Goblin mode embraces our lazy and selfish impulses that don’t take tomorrow into account.

After all, don’t you deserve it? The past few years have been collectively terrible. As long as giving into personal “treat yourself” moments doesn’t turn into a bad habit or do something to hurt yourself and/or others, go for it. Besides, personal dignity is overrated. Wear two Snuggies if it makes you feel extra cozy.

I don’t think my top words of the year merit their own press release, but if I were to suggest Grammar Guy’s big three buzzwords of 2022, I would choose “IRL” (“in real life”), “low-key” and “ghosted.” What word or words sum up your 2022?