“They’d better find another trick since everybody knows about gaslighting now.”
And we both laughed and moved on.
I’m sure you’ve heard about it, as it seems that I’ve seen more and more articles on gaslighting since the COVID pandemic. I'm not even researching it, and yet I see at least one article on it every time I log into my Twitter or Facebook. Perhaps something about isolation made us more attuned to the way that other people try to manipulate us. It is hard to convince somebody that they don’t know what they’re thinking when you’re in lockdown and what you’re thinking is most of your reality. And perhaps some of us came back into the world with a greater awareness of ourselves – and our sanity – than manipulators would like for us to have.
Gaslighting isn’t new. The term itself is from a 1938 play where a husband tries to make his wife doubt her sanity. The issue is that it’s so insidious that, as I mentioned, I think it took a worldwide pandemic that called everything in to question to realize it for what it is: not “imagining things.” Not “accusing me of being what you are.” Not lying. It’s an insidious form of manipulation that was successful at making people doubt themselves, their reality, and their ability to function – until a lockdown and social media started blasting the signs of it all over the place.
Sigh. Another perfectly good defense mechanism exposed. What’s an abusive narcissist to do?
I mention it because I now see this phenomenon showing up in fiction, which is my que that it really is on the radar of real people. I just finished reading Portals (by Douglas E. Richards), and would call the tactics of the antagonist gaslighting at a planetary level. Art impersonates life, so it’s no surprise to see it creeping up in fictional characters just three years after hitting mainstream attention, especially in sci-fi. We look around and see the world in a great big mess, but I think this is one small sign that perhaps something good came out of the pandemic. A realization that we are stronger than we think. A realization that we know what’s right and sane, and don’t want others to control us. A realization that we can trust ourselves, our thoughts, and our decision-making capabilities.
A sign that maybe we’re rooted in truth and ready to rise stronger to take control of this strange world. And maybe, if we can stand up to the tricks to keep us down, we can actually clean it up and make it better, like we said we wanted to.
It’s never too late, so I say we should take this good step forward and build on it. What other lies can we reject? What
other abuse can we lay aside? What other forces should we be standing up to?
I think it’s a good sign. This is something to build on. It starts in truth. Let’s see where else it can lead us.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.