I read in the paper a few days ago that the word ‘toxic’ made it as Oxford word for the year. Oxford Dictionaries proprietary data revealed a 45% rise in lookups for the word and a descriptor for the most talked about topics in 2018.
Top two words that made it as runner-ups are, gaslighting and incel. Gaslighting means to (manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity) while ‘incel’ a portmanteau of ‘Involuntary Celibates’ is (used to describe a person (usually male) who has a horrible personality and treats women as sexual objects and thinks his lack of a sex life comes from being "ugly" when it’s really just his blatant sexism and terrible attitude). I guess this reveals largely the ethos of the world this year.
Though saddening, I think it is quite revealing.
What is the meaning of toxic?
Just in case you are wondering, toxic has not gained new meaning; the word still means ‘poison’, the only difference is that it has acquired new metaphors.
The origin of the word dates back to the Greek word; 'toxikon pharmakon' which means 'poison for arrows'. Fast forward to 2018, Oxford found that more than ever, people are using the word toxic to describe a vast array of things, situations, people, concerns, events and much more.
Beyond the conventional description of the word to describe things like, chemical, masculinity, substance, gas, environment, culture, waste, air etc. toxic has reached the realms of metaphor and people now use it to describe workplaces, schools, cultures, relationships and stress giving, thereby, giving it a personal angle.
The sad reality is that these are just the obvious but not as toxic as the contemporary ‘vocabs’ that have found their way in the mouths of people.
Bringing it closer…
Oxford dictionary may seem far; maybe I should bring it closer to our context. Did you ever hear people around you use the expression ‘I die’ in everyday expression this year? (I hope you didn’t). What about the popular ‘slay mama/slay queen?’ The word ‘slay’ means to kill in a violent way and I can’t seem to figure out why people use it to describe a gorgeous person.
Even the popular dance step ‘shaku shaku’ does not seem innocent to me. I am not sure of its origin but it seem to me like ‘shackles shackles’ going by the dance pattern that require people to dance and twist hands like one in actual ‘shackles’.
The list goes on.
What is the real problem?
I figure that most people use words frivolously without questioning or thinking. The pressure to be socially ‘correct’ makes people use words that are toxic and detrimental to their health and life in general.
Another reason why people use toxic words is due to the facts all around. I have met really toxic people and it is very unbearable to engage them in a conversation. I am sure if people should realize that their lives move in the direction of their words, maybe more caution would be applied.
Words are never neutral or idle. We will always get snared by what we say; positive or negative.
It is time to detoxify…
For our engine to deliver better power, we must clear the clog.
We must become intentional about the words we speak, the words we consume and the words that we allow people to speak over us. If it means avoiding toxic people or object, please like it’s a plague, steer clear.
Words are seeds and the fruit are always bigger than the seed sown. As long as the earth remains, seedtime and harvest will not cease. We will inevitably reap the harvest of every seed of words we sow in due time if we do not change the seed. It is just a matter of principle.
We were not wired to conform to the patterns of this world, but rather to be transformed by the daily renewal of our minds.
More than ever before, we need word replacement therapy and it is high time we began to declare crop failure to every wrong seed of words sown.
Never forget that we will always be satisfied by the words of our mouth. Speaking right is intentional.
The ultimate cleanser that we can use to purge our heart of every toxic matter taken is God’s word.
Put it into your mouth; meditate on it and speak it over yourself and inevitably, you will rid yourself of toxics!