Goblin mode, Mistletoe and Traitors

Giving ‘Goblin Mode’ the cold shoulder

It’s that time of the year where, in between fretting about energy bills, the cost of Christmas, and summoning the strength to write Christmas cards, we find out 2022’s official Words of the Year.

According to Oxford University Press, and 93% of the 340,000 English speakers who voted in their poll, the word on collective our lips, and that best sums up the past 12 months, is [drumroll, please] ‘Goblin mode’.

Never heard of it…

Say, what? For a start, ‘Goblin mode’ is two words, so (pedantically) I’d argue that it doesn’t qualify as a word at all. And second, I categorically deny that those two words have never passed my lips. Am I really that out of touch?

Turning to that font of all knowledge, the internet, ‘Goblin mode’ is a slang term referring to “a type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

So… real life, then? The stuff we all do in between spurts of productivity? Like watching Netflix with a laptop-sized bar of Dairy Milk, or soaking for longer in the bath than is necessary to get clean, or enjoying an afternoon nap if we think we can get away with it? Yes. All of the above.

An antidote to social norms

Apparently, ‘Goblin mode’ describes an antidote to social norms. It’s a rejection, if you like, of the ‘look at me, isn’t my world perfect’ version of life that so many of us like to portray on social media. Of course, the term ‘Goblin mode’ itself comes from social media – specifically from TikTok. And that might explain why I hadn’t heard of it.

Reader, I love the sentiment, but not the phrase. Those of us who were raised on Enid Blyton were brainwashed to think of goblins negativity – those creatures were forever causing hassle for Noddy and Big Ears.

But if we can re-package the term, perhaps as ‘self-care’, or rework the definition as ‘unapologetically self-indulgent’, then I’m all in.

“Doing all the things”?

I shared a post on social media this week which sums up my life, particularly at this time of year.

It read, “Shoutout to everyone who has exactly two modes: 1) Doing all the things 2) Doing absolutely nothing while recovering from doing all the things.”

And from the reaction it got, I guess it resonated. We’re not here to spend all our time achieving. We’re here to have fun.

From working, getting through house-hold chores, trying to keep fit, planning and preparing for Christmas, spending time with friends and family, catching up with life-admin, and keeping up with daily Wordle, Heardle, and Duolingo (I’m on a 681-day streak, French and German) I am officially claiming the rest of my life as my own.

Time we enjoy, is never a waste

If I choose to wheel out the vinyl and spend a nostalgic solo evening in front of the fire with a dram, it’s my life, my choice.

Be gone, any notions of Goblins or guilt, laziness, slovenliness, or greed. Time spent in indulgent pleasure is time well spent.

Mistletoe? Sexual harassment? Yikes!

I’m reeling, slightly, after a slot on Radio Scotland with Kaye Adams on Monday morning. It was a short segment about mistletoe. The researcher asked me whether it still has its place in post-covid Scotland.

“Of course, it has!” was my immediate reaction. And so, I found myself on air.

Beware, all ye who enter here…

Mistletoe (or a metal version of it, if I can’t source the real thing) hangs in our hall at home every Christmas. It’s a bit of fun – any friends who happen to pop round, will be the lucky recipients of a festive peck on the cheek. “I’m an unreformed hugger, and it’s traditional”, I argued.

But I hadn’t reckoned on Body Language consultant Judy, who patiently explained to this apparent dinosaur of modern manners, that mistletoe is a ‘plant-based excuse for sexual harassment’.

I’m laughing, but a little stunned. Time to rethink my decorations?

Winner of The Traitors? Us. We live here.

We’ve all been watching The Traitors on iPlayer, haven’t we? It’s reality TV but it’s a cut above – think of a cross between an Agatha Christie murder-mystery and a Derren Brown Mentalist show, and you’re almost there.

22 contestants compete against each other to win £120 000, with the heavily-fringed Claudia Winkleman – and traitors – stirring things up.

The dark psychology gives this an edge over other reality stuff, but the real star of the show is the Highlands, it’s set in and around Ardross Castle. Double rainbows, beautiful lochs, autumn colours, and eagles. How lucky are we to call this home?

This column is published by Highland News and Media in newspapers across the north of Scotland. If you can, please support print media and the future of independent  journalism by buying a paper, or subscribing online. 

If you’d like to receive it by email every week, sign up free. Just pop your email address into the widget on my home page here. And feel free to share!