Because of disinformation campaigns, "fake news," and distrust, "gaslighting" has been named Merriam-word Webster's of the year for 2022.
Public distrust and the growing strength of disinformation campaigns make «gaslighting» Merriam-Webster's 2022 word of the year.The term, which is defined as «the act or practice of grossly misleading someone primarily for one's own benefit,» follows 2021's «vaccine» word. The company announced its word of the year on Monday.«In this age of misinformation — of 'fake news', conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls and deep hoaxes — gaslighting has emerged as a word for our time,» Merriam-Webster said on her website.The word «gaslighting» comes from a 1938 play and film Gas Light. The plot of the story features a man who deliberately deceives his wife into thinking she is going crazy, causing her to question his perception of her reality.
Psychological manipulation creates a balance of power where he is in control and she is dependent on him. Merriam-Webster said this type of manipulation often takes place over a long period of time.In more modern usages, «gaslighting» has described the medical community, the media, the political sphere, and energy companies.Gaslighting in personal relationships can be especially damaging and difficult to overcome, says Psychology Today. The victim will find it difficult to leave their abuser due to a «hoover» effect, where the abuser will suck them back in with kindness and empty promises before resorting to the old ways.Other words that saw an increase in searches in 2022 include «oligarch», «omicron» and «encode».The wide accessibility of information and communication channels waters the seeds of gaslighting.