The term “gaslighting” comes from the movie, and so its definition is rather specific: when a person lies for their own gain to another person so repeatedly and with so much confidence that the victim begins to doubt her own sanity. And, as the film puts it, a bit of Stockholm Syndrome develops as well: the victim, now uncertain that she can perceive reality correctly, becomes dependent on the gaslighter, more attached to him than ever.
I think there’s also a slighlty nuanced version that people use a lot: when the “bad actor” isnt lying, and thinks their case is correct. In this case, the bad actor is trying to make the “victem” think it’s all their fault, usuaully due to the old pop-Frueden move of identifitig hidden, unknown, and otherwise uncioicious motivations, or, just being ignorent and “dumb.”
To the victim, it all looks the same, but the difference is that the bad actor isn’t lying: so they believe they’re fighting for the truth.
Tim Bray explores why programmers so often start sentences Ed with “So…”
I’ve found myself saying “and that’s fine” a lot recently. I have a weird lexicon of words and their corresponding hacked semantics that I often use in more of a way to entertain myself than to inform other people. Having this weird lexicon keeps me entertained and also lets me filter in and out people who know me well or don’t. It’s like people who call me “Mike.” They have no idea who I am.
I’ve had to retire words from time to time. I used to say “exciting!” all the time to pretty much mean “that sounds less than insane; good for you; this is boring; let’s move on to the next topic.” (See what I mean about it being “weird”? Apparently I speak in semi-colons too.)
People at Dell figured this out after two or three hundred meetings with me, and would start using it in that same mocking way. I try to say “exciting!” less now. James was always super-astute at unmasking the real semantics. He’s one of the few people I’ve met who enjoys words qua words as much as I do.
Back to “fine.” As I explained to someone this morning, I have four levels of “goodness”:
- Burn the place down – doing so poorly that we should just shut it down. Awful.
- Doing poorly – not doing so hot, things need to be fixed.
- Fine – all things considered, given the choice, I’d rather be doing this then shooting myself in the nuts.
- Great – hey, I actually kind of like this.
Occasionally, other level of excellence are achieved, but they’re off the scale and usually involve booze and friends, not 9 to 5 existence.
Wow! Sounds like first world life; I mean that genuinely.