One of life’s simplest pleasures is a makeup-less Sunday on the couch. One of those minimal effort days where you’ve swept your hair in an unruly bun, your robe offers comparable satisfaction to a sexy new frock and the longest journey you make is to your fridge or front door. Honestly, there’s nothing more luxurious than ordering brunch on UberEats. Sometimes these personal ‘switch-off’ days, which I call affordable self-care, are a result of one too many gin and tonics on a Saturday night or simply down to wanting some alone time. We’ve all been there.
But seriously, it shouldn’t matter the reason — or even the particular day of home solitude choice. We should feel happy and free from judgment to enjoy our creatures-comforts without feeling pathetic or lazy. But like most things these days, the internet has a few condescending things to say about such a normal ritual. Yes, even after multiple pandemic-led lockdowns forced us all indoors.
People, specifically women, are now being criticised for getting comfy and ‘careless’ about their appearance at home, courtesy of a newish word making the rounds on social media. Enter ‘goblin mode’ — a term as slothful and grotesque as the mini mythical monster depicted in the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films. While most frequently referenced by those in the U.K. and U.S., the zeitgeist have replaced 2020/21’s romanticised cultural trends of ‘cottagecore,’ ‘that girl’ and ‘hot girl summer,’ (already problematic terms) with a most patronising antonym.
We’ve gone from the highly-curated (and unrealistic posts) of women prettily dressed in plaid, undertaking wholesome activities like picking flowers, colour-coordinating their cupboards and baking cakes — to the idea that women who like to chill out in their trackies at home are, well, unhinged goblins. Something, which shouldn’t be fetishised or chastised — let alone called a ‘trend.’ It’s just life.
While goblin mode has been around since the ‘dark ages’ of the interwebs — aka on Tumblr and Urban Dictionary — the term resurfaced on Twitter and Reddit via a fake news headline posted on February 15. The photo-edited title falsely claimed that Kanye West (Ye) broke up with ex-girlfriend Julia Fox as he didn’t like when the Uncut Gems actress went “goblin mode.”
“Julia Fox opened up about her ‘difficult’ relationship with Kanye West: ‘He didn’t like when I went goblin mode,’” the fake headline, originally shared on Twitter read. Fox has since clarified on her Instagram Stories: “Just for the record. I have never used the term ‘goblin mode.’”
While Fox didn’t spark the resurged trend, a plethora of takeaways about goblin mode have recently been published by both news outlets and on the millennial ‘dictionaries’ of TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. iNews describes it as: “The day where you’re wearing tracksuit bottoms, a pair of pants you’ve owned since 2009, your hair scraped back in a bun and skin covered with a thin layer of invisible but very real grime.” Meanwhile, The Guardian says “the term embraces the comforts of depravity,” where one spends “the day in bed watching 90 Day Fiancé on mute while scrolling endlessly through social media …”
Tech reporter of NPR, Bobby Allyn even tweeted on March 15: “Goblin mode is like when you wake up at 2am and shuffle into the kitchen wearing nothing but a long T-shirt to make a weird snack, like melted cheese on saltines.”
In essence, ‘goblin mode’ seemingly rejects the idea of self-improvement and self-betterment by embracing the inner slob — an absolute contradiction to the reason why most people opt to stay in. I’m no expert, but the decision to relax at home is as conducive to self-care as is that coffee out with a friend. For me, a day of binging Bridgerton whilst eating last night’s cheeseboard leftovers is as healthy as going for a run and ordering a green juice. It resets and recharges my batteries for the next day, if not whole week. And let’s be honest, after we’ve all become accustomed to solitude during lockdown — a few busy days out in the ‘real world’ is incredibly exhausting.
While bunkering down for days/weeks on end with little care perhaps isn’t the best idea — we all know how much fresh air and even fresh hair — does wonders to our mood, setting aside time to do absolutely nothing is but the perfect stress-reliever. Integris Health also says such “rest” days are not only “vital” for mental health, but they increase our concentration and memory, enable a healthier immune system, improve our mood and may even boost our metabolism.
So the next time someone calls you a bore or “goblin,” for staying in — mute them on social media and feel free to compulsively scroll. Those unproductive days at home will make you appreciate the moments out even more.
Hayley Peppin is an Australian lifestyle and entertainment journalist.