Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year sums up 2018 perfectly

California fires are the latest in a string of toxic environmental disasters affecting 2018. Photo by Robyn Beck.


The Oxford Dictionary has labelled ‘toxic’ as 2018’s Word of the Year.Source:Supplied


This year has been hard yakka. I highly commend those who have struggled through political climate turbulence, saturated royal family presence, nuclear threats, petrol price rise, housing market crash and survived with their mental sanity intact.

In fact, I wholeheartedly sympathise with anyone ready for 2018 to kick the bucket.

This year has been virulent, and Oxford Dictionary has fittingly chosen “toxic” as its representative word of the year.

Toxic: Adjective; 1) Relating to or caused by poison; 2) Very bad, unpleasant, or harmful

‘Toxic’ emulates all that has been 2018. From the #MeToo campaign calling out toxic masculinity, to the Tide Pod eating challenge which was quite literally toxic to the human body, this year has exemplified the rhetoric that the human race has the inane ability to be poisonous to one another.

This year was riddled with political unrest, cultural injustice and climate issues that may have caused irreversible damage.

Increasingly so, the world seems to teeter on the brink of a fourth world war. Between the inaccuracies spewed forth by Donald Trump and China’s stern warning to Australia about war, tension is high across the globe.

2018 saw yet another leadership spill for the Australian government, the latest iteration in a series of short-lived political power struggles. It seems the ideal of democracy in Australia is dying a poisoned death.

Australia’s votes hold little value; politicians are traded in and out on a whim.

It hasn’t been an easy slug for America either. The US government continues to ignore the rising gun violence epidemic plaguing their nation. The Gun Violence Archive has recorded over 47,000 gun violence incidents this year alone, 25 per cent of which resulted in death.

Despite this, the US government pleads ignorance to the outdated amendment allowing the ownership of weapons known to deliver devastating consequences. In 2018 alone, 12,000 gun-related deaths were recorded — more than 32 each day. It begs the question, if childcare and high school shootings won’t trigger legislation change, what will?

Unfortunately, the toxic political climate is deeply embedded, extending from issues of alleged voting corruption to sexual assault within the court system itself. Following the rise of the #MeToo campaign last year, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual misconduct by Christine Blasey-Ford which he denied.

The sexual assault and rape crisis transcends the US, becoming an epidemic acknowledged worldwide.

2018 has been a year paramount in shining a light on sexual assault and harassment issues that has existed in society for far too long. Despite the prevalence of women coming forward to share their stories, the stigma remains. In Tasmania, sexual assault victims and rape survivors still aren’t legally allowed to share their stories, gagged by law.

Avoiding the toxicity can’t be simply avoided by media ignorance either. One can’t turn off the TV or put down their phone to escape.

A walk in the fresh air might not be as retributive as previously thought anymore. The World Health Organisation found 93 per cent of the world’s children — around 1.8 billion kids — inhale toxic air. Air pollution remains a leading cause of death among children aged five and under, accounting for one in 10 deaths.

California fires are the latest in a string of toxic environmental disasters affecting 2018. Photo by Robyn Beck.

California fires are the latest in a string of toxic environmental disasters affecting 2018. Photo by Robyn Beck.Source:AFP

Mother Nature has become toxic too. Wind, rain and floods ravage Italy, while across the globe flames devour the California coast. The Earth is revolting against mankind and the solution to climate change is simple, yet not nearly embraced as earnestly as it should.

Undoubtedly, “toxic” was the correct choice word of the year, beating out short list contenders “gaslighting”, “incel”, “techlash” and “Big Dick energy”.

And while Oxford Dictionary can associate the rise of “toxic” to Britney Spears — who released song Toxic in 2003 — beneath it all there remains an ingrained societal problem that needs to be addressed. And complacency is possibly the worst reaction to have.

The antidote to the toxicity of 2018 is hope. There is change stirring as people grow weary of the same stories on the same issues. More women are elected into positions of power, the ozone layer has started to recover, and as a society, we’re slowing accepting there are learned “truths” that need to be unlearned.

This time next year, “toxic” won’t be the word of choice. Here’s hoping 2019 can bring about a cure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *