There was so much gaslighting going on in 2022 via social media that the use of "gaslighting" soared to become Merriam-Webster's word of the year. It was an incredible run -- like the Bengals making the Super Bowl -- that caught everyone off-guard, including the people who maintain the dictionary.
Gaslighting is defined by Merriam-Webster as the "psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one's emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator(.)"
Exactly, it was the perfect word for the Internet generation that likes to ride hip words right into the ground, typically over 18-24 months before moving on to some other new hip keyword.
“It’s a word that has risen so quickly in the English language, and especially in the last four years, that it actually came as a surprise to me and to many of us,” Peter Sokolowski of Merriam-Webster told the Associated Press.
“It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year,” he added.
There's the money shot.
People had to look up the word because THEY HAD NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL THE HIP GEN Zs WERE TALKING ABOUT WHEN THEY USED "GASLIGHTING" TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TIMES PER DAY ON SOCIAL MEDIA during political wars.
Put it this way, if you're over 22, the use of "gaslighting" isn't in your vocabulary unless you sit and fight with Gen Z nerds on social media. That should tell you how pervasive the use of the word is within the Gen Z nerd community.
Let's take a look at how the Zs are using gaslighting in sentences.
You lost me, Gen Z'er.
Let's see how a Coronabro uses "gaslighting" in a sentence.
Strong use, Coronabro!
Here's another Gen Z'er talking through the definition of the word that so many of her contemporaries use at a wild pace. Even the dictionary editor didn't see this trend taking off like it did when "mental health" is used millions of times per day. It was a major upset that the dictionary bro picked "gaslighting" over "mental health."
There has to be a much simpler word to use instead of gaslighting, especially for those of us who haven't been in college for 20-plus years.
Yeah, but using "gaslighting" sounds so cool in 2022.
Thanks for saying it, Max.
So how long has this "gaslighting" word been used by the Internet? A quick Twitter history search reveals that a woman named Teressa Welch, who describes herself as a "bipolar over-protective amusing intelligent geek," was the first user -- of current record -- to use the word in a tweet way back in April 2007.
The word was used three more times in total in 2007.
The first blue checkmark to use the word as it is intended in the dictionary was the Huffington Post in July 2008 in a Bush-McCain story teaser.
In a wild twist, Teressa Welch, who is still active on the social media app and has made nearly 7,000 tweets since joining in 2006, hasn't used gaslighting in a tweet since 2007.
Now go drop your new gaslighting knowledge on some Gen Z'ers in the lunch room at work.