Psychology Today defines “gaslighting” as “a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain power, makes a victim question their reality…a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders.” Gaslighting isn’t a new term or new concept but certainly as the conversations about race, gender, sexuality, class, and more, become widened and are being had more frequently, the notion of what it means certainly is new.
With everything going on in the world today, from the continuing saga of the COVID 19 coronavirus to the ongoing protests surrounding #BlackLivesMatter and the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, it has become unavoidably impossible to become overwhelmed with the saturated scope of information and events both in traditional media and social media. Sharon Salzberg, contributor for The Hill, writes in her 2020 article, “Gaslighting in the Age of Coronavirus”, that “we… need to step back and assess whether or not it is a good idea to take in so much of the information the world is throwing at us… doing this, we slowly start to see how bias warps reality to meet the needs of someone else’s agenda.”
Strong advising against becoming a victim of gaslighting is important today because being at the epicenter of a racial and a health pandemic can bring about an overwhelming feeling of acceptance reluctance in which everyone accepts what’s going on because their own abilities to discern otherwise have been paralyzed by exhaustion and anxiety.
Think about all that has happened in the year 2020-
* Death of Kobe Bryant in a plane crash.
* Meghan Markle and Prince Harry breaking away from the Royal family.
* Australian wildfires.
* Murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, to name a few.
* COVID-19 Coronavirus declared a pandemic.
This list is not an exhaustive list but many of these are touchstones as the year has rolled along.
There is no exact study that says how many events happen a day, a week, a month, or a year because life is too unpredictable. Nevertheless, if there is anything one learns from life occurrences, it is be careful where one’s source of information is and is it a healthy and sustainable source?
Think about how many times one watches the news or surfs the web? Think about how many times one regurgitates the information taken from television and the internet? How much of that regurgitation is information overload and how much of that regurgitation is analysis? Is it possible that the information and rhetoric transferred through the media has the ability to indoctrinate and host human beings to accomplish creating a culture to sustain that rhetoric? Absolutely. It’s called “gaslighting”.