I was only recently introduced to the term ‘Goblin mode’ by blogger Ally Bean in her post, “Deconstructing Goblin Mode: It Can Happen To The Best Of Us” and it got me thinking.
Firstly, for those unfamiliar with the term, ‘Goblin mode’ is a state of mind where people become slobs, go feral and don’t really care what others think. Ally refers to a recent article published in The Guardian newspaper entitled: “Slobbing out and giving up: why are so many people going ‘goblin mode’?” It’s an interesting article and explains that the pandemic is partly to blame by slowing down society, people’s expectations, and removing the need to keep up appearances. The article quoted a tech worker who said, “At home there’s no social pressure to follow norms, so you sort of lose the habit,” he says. “There’s also a feeling that we’re all fucked, so why bother?” This is probably a reference to the psychological impact of bad news and social media ‘winder-uppers’. If you think we will all perish in WW3 or due to environmental disasters caused by global warming, or will soon be penniless as the world economy crashes, or will run out of food, then I suppose it is hard to motivate oneself. But these people have stopped thinking. They have become numb, weird and socially inept and have given up.
It seems to me there are two aspects to Goblin mode.
First, ‘Slobbing out’. Since covid lockdowns, many people don’t go out to socialise as much and prefer staying in, dressing-down in loungewear to watch Netflix or YouTube or video games stuffing their faces with pizza and doritos. That’s fair enough. But often, when I go out, I see more and more people dressed like they’re ready for bed or ready to beg for the price of a meal. Some people can’t walk along the street without munching something and swigging a can or bottle (often disposed of anti-socially). I see more and more litter and dog poo everywhere. People are starting to look sloppy, they drive sloppily, and tradesmen often do a sloppy job – not just because they are not trained but because they have lost all pride. Of course, many people are working from home more. The comfort benefits of working from home have posed new challenges, such as avoiding ‘pyjama syndrome’. This is where the change in work schedules means people can’t separate work responsibilities and behaviours from leisure. Many companies complain about slipping standards since co-vid. I know some companies and workers use covid as an excuse for being lazy although I accept there are many valid reasons why employers and employees are not functioning as well as they used to. But I really don’t think we can blame ‘slobbing out’ on the pandemic, world news and the pressures of being human. So why are we turning into slobs?
The second aspect is ‘Going Feral’- something closer to the traditional description of a Goblin: an animal or person who is grotesque, mischievous and potentially evil. Now I know we sometimes need to act a little crazy or act out of character to keep ourselves sane. But I see more examples of people who have gone completely feral and who delight in being more than mischievous and just doing what they want regardless of the impact on other people. Why are people going feral? My theory is that many people are reacting to being shut down, controlled, powerless and cancelled. Covid restrictions, less personal freedom and erosion of civil liberties, not knowing who to trust or what is fact or misinformation, being manipulated by big business, being monitored by your employers, being controlled by social media companies etc.. all contribute to our determination to put two fingers up to businesses, politicians, Government, etc, and to push boundaries and do what we think we can get away with. Hence, for example, we see BMW drivers racing along like they’re in an arcade racing game where, if they kill somebody, they just need to put another £1 in. The ‘fu*k you, I’ll do what I want’ attitude is difficult to distinguish from anti-social behaviour. This is on the increase as social boundaries disappear and those responsible for preventing and intervening do nothing. In 2021, police recorded over 2 million incidents of anti-social behaviour – the highest in seven years. Offences range from people using and dealing drugs, fly-tipping, vandalism and threatening behaviour. The annual Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated more than a third (37%) of adults experienced or witnessed anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their community last year – its highest level for six years.
Conclusion……… I would like to think I haven’t slobbed out. However, I have I think gone slightly feral in response to the behaviour of some slobbish and feral people. I challenge bad drivers and parkers regularly (and despite not being abusive, my wife thinks someone will eventually thump me). I have threatened dog owners (I won’t say exactly how) who let their dogs run up to my grandsons in the park and dog walkers who don’t clean up after their dogs. I have removed unauthorised and unsightly advertisements and birthday banners erected on roundabouts and lampposts and disposed of them. I have re-acquainted slobs with their discarded rubbish in various ways. I have confiscated pens from a group of teenagers who were graffiti-ing a telecoms box. I have threatened to eject a noisy, drunk and swearing feral family from a campsite in the early hours one morning convincing them I was the owner’s brother. (Yes, it worked!) I only do these things because no one else appears willing to challenge bad behaviour. I also challenge stupid and petty rules as a hobby. I like to think my responses are measured and proportionate.
Please don’t think I’m an angry man or a Judge Dread character. I am aware of my limitations in terms of policing the world and maintaining standards. I also accept that there are some things you just have to let go either because it is a hopeless cause or just too dangerous to make a stand.
Thankfully, the majority people are not lazy slobs or feral goblins but that other minority are really getting on my wick!