Goblin mode is Oxford's Word of the Year 2022, which suits an utter slob like me - Gaby Soutar

I work in a word factory, but this phrase has never made it onto my dusty production line.

Mind you, I’m often behind the times. I regularly use Noughties terms including earworm and fashionista, as if they were zeitgeist-y.

Goblin mode was voted for by 318,956 people, when Oxford took it to a public vote along with metaverse and #IStandWith and the winner was announced earlier this week.

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Apparently, this neologism encapsulates 2022’s trend towards being a slattern, or a slut, as my mum would say, in the old-fashioned sense of the word.

Goblin gang

The phrase has been around for a few years, but went viral, back in February, after being used in a fake news story about Kanye West and Julia Fox’s break-up, and even Elon Musk has used it since.

Oxford defines it as “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations”.

It seems that lockdown altered our habits and, as the world continued on its increasingly chaotic axis, we doubled down into our goblin bunkers. This was in part a rebellion against the post lockdown pressure to go out and enjoy ourselves.

It’s like being a budgie. They unlock the cage and unlatch the window, but sometimes you don’t want to fly free, especially when you’ve got some cuttlefish and a mirror with a bell on it. Also, there are cats outside and they might want to eat a pretty boy.

We’ve watched gobbledygook on our phones, binged on junk food, haven’t bothered washing or styling our hair in the usual signature pompadour, stayed in bed all day, and relinquished any semblance of perfection.

It’s an ambition-free YOLO of sorts, when you bin the bucket list and fill it with Häagen-Dazs instead. Your carpe diem has decided to carpe die.

I’m certainly not seizing anything, unless it’s warm or edible.

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If anyone dared to ring the doorbell or phone, we’d growl “who’s that trip-trapping over my bridge?”. Or maybe that’s the trolls who say that, while taking a break between posting supportive comments online.

Apparently, the goblin trend is a partial backlash to the images of perfection that have proliferated on social media over the past few years. The annoying sprites, who show us their green smoothies, perfect homes and shiny hair, are becoming extinct. Good. Don’t slam the cottage-core door on your way out.

Even if it’s considered an ephemeral lifestyle trend, I feel that I’ve always been in goblin mode. Essentially, since birth, when I popped out as a tiny goblet.

I keep up appearances outside the house. There’s the make-up and brushed hair, matching shoes and absence of egg yolk stains. I have a handbag that’s very smart from the outside, but inside – total goblin mode. There’s an unwrapped boiled sweet stuck to the lining.

As soon as I return to my lair, the pyjamas are immediately deployed from their traditionally Scottish under-the-pillow spot. I used to have a strict 5pm curfew on that outfit, but it’s edged ever earlier over the past couple of years. That became permissible when they started marketing it as loungewear.

If I ever have a night out planned, and it gets cancelled, my first thought is always ‘excellent’. I know I am not unique in that respect.

There is no pleasure greater than having zero on your schedule. When the working day is done, you can transform into your true self – a gibbering blob.

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I think women especially are taught from a young age to constantly observe themselves, as an outsider would. This still happens to me sometimes, mainly when I’m in public.

However, the indoor internal voice will occasionally pipe up. That’s usually to say “would you just look at yourself”, as I lie on the sofa, under a heap of mismatched clothes, with Marmite on my face and my specs smudged with fingerprints, so they render everything in Emmanuelle soft focus.

“You absolutely disgust me,” they will say. “This is SO aspirational.” Sarcastic.

As I get older, that voice gets more muffled. I think it might be buried under the cushions. Probably suffocated. What a shame. I’ll run and get my defibrillator. See, I can be sarcastic too.

Since I am also married to a goblin, or a bogeyman at least, there is less household pressure to look presentable or do any Hyacinth Bucket-ing.

As the only person in Scotland to like American football, his happy place involves eating nachos in a bobble hat and dressing gown while watching the San Francisco 49ers.

At this time of year, the inclination towards our mutual goblin-hood intensifies.

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Since the central heating is so expensive, I spend more time in my bed, with the electric blanket on. I’ve given up trying to moderate my phone time, and my diet has gone to pot.

Generally, though, I don’t feel too guilty. We’re sold the idea that a healthy mind and body is achieved through meditation, self improvement, exercise, positive affirmations and a nutritious diet.

I do a bit of all of those things. They’re effective, if occasionally expensive, but perhaps being a goblin can fall into the self care category too.

As Christmas approaches, I’d like to suggest we take it a step further, and go into Gremlin mode, except we WILL be fed after midnight. I predict a couple of weeks of mince-pie-scoffing and slipper wearing abandon.

#IStandWith Gremlin mode.



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